MANCHESTER — Additional air quality testing results revealed dusty conditions in several Manchester Elementary School classrooms but no abnormal levels of mold, according to the report sent to parents Tuesday.

Last week, Regional School Unit 38 officials said water damage was found in the stage area of the school, but there was no visible mold present. However, Air Quality Management Services, Inc., which did the testing, recommended the stage area be closed immediately. It will be remediated and cleaned during the district’s break later this month.

The rest of the school was tested for mold Monday after parents and community members complained for months that the district wasn’t doing enough to combat the mold problem.

RSU 38 officials and the school administration have been dealing with a mold problem on the 64-year-old campus since late October, when the school nurse reported a strange smell in the basement. Subsequent testing found mold spores in the basement and three classrooms, which were cleaned and remediated over the December break.

Randy Geoffroy, owner of the Gray-based Air Quality Management, tested four additional classrooms and the stage area. The report said air samples found fungal growth similar to what’s typically found in occupied indoor environments, such as schools and office buildings. Surface samples were not tested for mold because there were no visible fungi.

The report stated there is “no significant evidence of mold exposure of concern or atypical mold levels for each location sampled.” There were some low-level elevations of common outdoor-type mold spores that Geoffroy said were common in the winter.

The four classrooms were determined to be dusty and Geoffroy recommended detailed cleaning of the rooms, which Superintendent Donna Wolfrom said would occur over the summer.

The closing of the stage area, Geoffroy said, is a proactive recommendation to “err on the side of most caution.” He recommended the water-damaged wall and ceiling systems be removed 4 feet in each direction, and he said the flooring below the water stains should be removed 4 feet in all directions.

“If (Air Quality Management) thinks something needs to be done immediately, we’ll do it,” Wolfrom said last week. She said she is working with Octagon Cleaning and Restoration to get an estimate on the cost of all the cleaning and remediation.

The results of Monday’s test of the rest of the school won’t be available until next week at the earliest, the superintendent said.

“I am anxiously awaiting the results from Monday’s testing and am hopeful they will show no areas of concern,” said parent Jeremy Payne, an outspoken critic of how the district has handled the process since mold was first discovered in November. “I’m also relieved we will finally determine the school’s safety and the well-being of students, teachers and staff.”

Mold is a naturally occurring, necessary part of the environment that can be found everywhere, the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council states on its website. Symptoms of mold exposure are allergylike, including coughing, wheezing and nasal stuffiness, according to an allergist and immunologist at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta.

Since the process began in November, parents and other community members had been calling for the district to order the testing of the entire school. The district held several public meetings, and after initially holding out on ordering the testing, agreed last week at a facilities committee meeting to test the entire school.

The district has been criticized publicly for a lack of communication with families and staff members throughout the process. The first email alerting parents to the air quality problem was sent Nov. 28 — but never mentioned mold had been found — and the second communication talking about the cleaning process was sent in early January.

Wolfrom and Principal Janet Delmar pledged to improve the district’s transparency, and since the beginning of the year, nearly a half-dozen emails from Delmar to families updating them on the process have been sent.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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