CHINA — Students at China Primary School are eating in the cafeteria again after a hot water valve on a dishwasher in the kitchen failed and leaked hot water into the area on New Year’s weekend.

The leaked hot water prompted school officials to close the cafeteria and the kitchen to replace pieces of wallboard along the walls and install a new ceiling. Students were having lunch in their classrooms instead.

Officials were concerned about how long the water might have been present, which could have been 36 hours, according to superintendent Gary Smith, so the walls and air were tested for mold.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indoor exposure to mold can be linked to upper respiratory problems such as wheezing, asthma symptoms for those with asthma, and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. Some studies also have shown mold exposure could be linked to asthma development in children.

The school hired Advanced 1 Cleaning as well as Air Quality Management, a testing service based in Gray. After the initial cafeteria cleaning, parts of the surface samples taken from the wall still had elevated levels of mold spores, Smith said, which prompted the school to bring in a cleaning crew once again.

A test done Sunday revealed no spores in the cafeteria. The number of spores in the kitchen, which was the most affected space, has declined as the school has kept air scrubbers and a negative air pressure machine running in the area, Smith said.

The school will continue cleaning in the kitchen and expects it to be open after the February vacation, Smith said, though the school will be testing the area after the cleaning process is done. For now, lunch is being taken over to the primary school from China Middle School.

The school does not yet know how much of the costs insurance will cover, Smith said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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