Wentworth School determined safe for now

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SCARBOROUGH — Students and staff who spend their days in Wentworth Intermediate School took a deep breath, and had a collective sigh of relief last week after tests for mold came back at safe levels.

The tests come on the heels of high levels of mold in the aging school building’s utility tunnels, which were thorough cleaned, ventilated and retested over the past month.

“Air samples indicated very low levels of mold spore activity in the tested trench areas,” a report produced by Northeast Test Consultants for the school on Oct. 26 read.

NTC also tested the classrooms with tunnel access hatches with the same result.

The report stated that the mold found was the same mold found outdoors, and not the dangerous Aspergillis mold associated with allergic reactions and other breathing issues, which had been present in earlier testing.

“We are going to test a few more carpet samples for mold,” Director of Buildings, Grounds and Maintenance Todd Jepson said.

Jepson added that during the recent bout of rainstorms, both the tunnels and the classrooms remained dry.

“Drier than the high school, actually,” he said.

The school has put an industrial-size dehumidifier in the tunnels to keep them as dry as possible and Jepson said each time NTC personnel are on the premises, he has them check the tunnels for water.

Jepson said in the future he’d like for the entire school system to be tested regularly for mold, something he is aware is happening in other districts.

“For not too much money, we could have all the schools tested regularly,” he said.

Additionally, the school has begun the process of replacing 28 windows in classrooms affected by asbestos, which was found in the glazing of the old windows this summer. Since then, all the windows have been ordered closed to stop asbestos from entering the classrooms.

“We have one window removed,” Jepson said. “It’s currently boarded up. We’re hoping to do that with a few more over Thanksgiving break.”

The idea, he said, is to get as many windows out before Christmas as possible so the installation of the new windows over the winter break is more efficient. Each time a window is taken out, the classroom must be tested for asbestos, which slows down the replacement process.

The windows have been ordered, however, because they must be specially built to fit the classrooms, Jepson said.

“The teachers have been really great,” he said. “Their patience has been something I’ve very much appreciated.”

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net