RICHMOND, Va. — Several teachers believe a mold problem in their classrooms is causing asthma-like symptoms and lung infections. Richmond Public Schools confirmed six different types of mold was found in the basement of Fox Elementary School in the Fan District.
Richmond School Board member Kim Gray told CBS 6 that she was alerted to the problem after receiving a call from a teacher Tuesday night.
The school did testing on the mold Wednesday and results returned positive for black mold on Friday.
Richmond Public School COO Thomas Kranz said mold spores were found in six classrooms, hallways, and the cafeteria.
There have been no reports of sick students, according to officials.
Pictures sent to us by teachers show what appears to be mold on ceiling tiles and walls.
Teacher Jen Ramachandran said unfortunately the mold issues has to do with a lack of funding for Richmond Public Schools.
“Mold does not grow overnight and being with the support our schools movement we have been really pushing to make it known that our schools need proper funding,” said Ramachandran
Officials said the problem originated from high humidity, condensation on the exposed pipes, and an improperly working AC system in the 105 year old building.
“Anywhere you stand in the classroom you can see black spots along the pipes,” Ramachandran said.
Saturday, Kranz said he hired two mold remediation crews to remove insulation and clean the AC unit at a cost of $80,000 that will work throughout the weekend.
“The Cladosporium spore was on the one that raised the concern for us that we were going to move sooner than later,” Kranz said.
Despite the confirmation of black mold spores in the school, classes were not canceled on Friday.
“At no time were the levels at a place where it warranted an evacuation of staff and students from the building,” Gray said.
The school’s principal, Daniela Jacobs, sent an email to parents that said the following:
Greetings Fox Family,
This is your principal Daniela Jacobs, with an update on some work that will be completed in our building. As I am sure you are aware, we have been challenged with flooding and dampness, especially in the basement area. This weekend, Contractors will be working around the clock mitigating some environmental issues, cleaning out HVAC units, and replacing insulation around piping. Additionally, we are working on a solution to prevent any further flooding in the basement area. Please know, that our building is safe and there are no health concerns for students or staff! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Have a great weekend.
Kranz said with a $1.5 million maintenance budget, it’s hard to fix every problem with the dozens of buildings he oversees in the district.
He originally asked for $10 million to repair the schools, but never received it from the city.
Teachers with the Support our Schools have been fighting for more funding for RPS at city council meetings for years and said this all could’ve been avoided.
Ramachandran and others said they are concerned with all schools within RPS due to lack of funding.
They said their anger doesn’t fall back on the school administration, but instead city council.
“We are very happy [RPS is] taking it seriously and remediating it as quickly as possible,” Ramachandran said.
Kranz said Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden will tour the school Monday morning to ensure classes are safe for students and staff.