HILLSBOROUGH: Mold at Hillsborough High School mostly under control

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By Andrew Martins, Managing Editor
School district officials are not yet ready to reveal what caused the closure of some areas within Hillsborough High School after mold was found by teachers and staff.
Earlier this year, Superintendent Dr. Jorden Schiff reported that there were approximately a dozen areas throughout Hillsborough High School that had been barred from use thanks to the presence of dark mold spores.
Of those areas that had been affected, Board of Education member Greg Gillette reported that just a handful remained closed to general use during remediations.
According to district Business Administrator Aiman Mahmoud, the auditorium, one classroom, the weight room and a small office room have recently been retested, with the results determining whether they will be reopened.
“Every room that was brought up as a possible concern was addressed, was remediated and down to those four areas,” Mr. Mahmoud said.
Even though a classroom has been shuttered for mold since before the school year began, Mr. Mahmoud said the room was a smaller instructional area that would not have housed a 30-student class. He also said the students that had been affected were moved to another classroom while the room was being remediated.
“I can say that the focus is that we’ve come very far with this and the piece we’re still not completely resolved on is the auditorium,” Mr. Mahmoud said.
Mr. Gillette said he felt he needed to address the situation after hearing that members of the community feared that mold spores had begun spreading throughout the school.
“We had some e-mails from parents and there seemed to be a narrative emerging that mold was spreading,” Mr. Gillette said. “It’s not spreading.”
Some of the concerns from parents, he said, included that the mold was also present in the school’s HVAC system. With the winter months fast approaching, those same parents were worried that mold spores would propagate through the entire building once the heating was turned on.
Though Mr. Gillette said such a condition does not exist in the high school, he did admit that “one or two isolated cases that had not been found initially” have been discovered since the start of the school year.
In most cases, he said, those conditions were quickly cleaned and remediated without incident.
Mr. Mahmoud estimated that the number of rooms that were found to be contaminated after the September meeting was “less than six.”
In order to assuage public fears, officials said the district has been regularly following up with concerns made by teachers, staff and students out of fear of potential mold contamination.
“We have taken a very liberal approach to addressing concerns, so if somebody said they weren’t feeling well, we went and tested their room,” Mr. Mahmoud said. “We’re addressing all safety issues so that nobody feels uncomfortable entering the building.”
As for what caused the mold, Mr. Gillette said the district is unable to publicly announce that bit of information, out of fears that there could be potential legal ramifications.
“There might be responsible parties for cause,” he said. “We will eventually (say what caused it) and it won’t be too long, but the main thing is that it’s not spreading.”