SMCC students to return to South Portland dorm after mold remediation

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Southern Maine Community College students displaced from their campus dormitory after the discovery of mold will move back into the building this weekend, a college spokesman said.

The discovery of mold in the 10-year-old Spring Point Residence Hall led administrators to temporarily close the building Aug. 19 and move students to alternative housing, including area hotels.

Clarke Canfield, SMCC director of communications, said the hotels were along bus lines that stop at the college and students’ housing payments were applied to their hotel costs.

Work to clean the building by restoration services company Servpro began Aug. 21 and included replacing ceiling tiles, painting and general cleaning. The cost of relocation and remediation has not been finalized, but Canfield said it is likely going to be expensive.

Air quality testing done Monday gave the building a “clean bill of health,” Canfield said, and students were then told they could move back into the building Sept. 15.

The college had estimated students would be able to move back into the building three to four weeks after cleanup began, and Saturday’s return is on track with that projection. 

Canfield in August said the mold found in the dorm showed various types of spores, but only nominal, non-threatening levels of so-called “black mold” were detected.

About 60 students who were living in the residence hall moved out of the building shortly before fall semester classes were set to begin. Some students were moved into Surfsite Residence Hall, also on the SMCC campus. Spring Point Hall has a capacity of 320 students; Surfsite Hall’s capacity is 147 students.

College officials said the growth of mold was brought on by a combination of things, including a malfunctioning ventilation system and the high temperatures and humidity that Maine experienced this summer. The situation prompted condensation to form above the building’s ceiling tiles. 

Olivia Treadwell, a college sophomore who organized a protest Aug. 21 with a fellow student to address what they said was a lack of transparency, asked the school last month to reimburse students for laundry, summer housing and medical check-ups for those who experience mold-related symptoms.

Canfield said Tuesday that the college has offered to have students’ personal belongings cleaned.

Canfield, at the protest, said as soon as the school became aware that a problem existed, students were moved from the dorm and experts were called in to have the mold tested. 

He said this week that indoor air quality tests will become a regular practice for the college.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net. Follow he on Twitter @JulietteLaaka

Spring Point Residence Hall at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland has been closed since Aug. 19 for mold remediation. Students are expected to move back into the building Saturday, Sept. 15. 

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