Two teachers in adjoining classrooms at Hall-Dale Middle School in Farmingdale developed rashes and reported feeling uncomfortable Thursday morning, prompting school officials to close those classrooms and move students elsewhere.

The teachers, Superintendent Bill Zima said, were back in school teaching Friday, in different classrooms. He said the two classrooms where the teachers first reported having problems will remain closed until an environmental consultant is able to investigate whether it could have been something in or near those rooms that caused the teachers’ rash.

Zima said an initial investigation by the buildings and grounds director of Regional School Unit 2, Gordon Murray, and a custodian did not detect any mold or other apparent issues that could have caused the teachers discomfort. They checked up in the ceiling, inspected air filtration vents and the rest of the classrooms looking for anything amiss, but didn’t find anything readily apparent.

“The RSU is taking this seriously and we’re going to investigate it to its fullest,” Zima said Friday. “That’s why, within hours of it being reported, there were people up in the ceiling, crawling around. We haven’t seen any visible signs of mold. Everything looks okay. But we want to make sure the area is safe. So by yesterday afternoon, our director of buildings and grounds, who has a lot of pride in the building, was already having a conversation with the outside (environmental) consultant, trying to determine how we ensure it is safe for our kids.”

Zima said classes won’t return to the two middle school classrooms until the consultant has a chance to check them out, which he anticipated would be soon, though he didn’t yet know specifically when. Earlier this year, consultants inspected Manchester Elementary School after a mold problem was found in the basement and teachers and students complained of headaches and other symptoms.

The two teachers, whom Zima declined to identify, went home Thursday, after reporting around 10 a.m., they were each experiencing a rash.


Zima said he was not aware of any students reporting they had rashes, nor of any students who were in those classrooms being sent home.

The two classrooms share a common door and are back-to-back with each other.

An email notification was sent out to parents, explaining that classes would continue in different classrooms.

Temperatures Thursday reached into the 90s, breaking records in central Maine. Zima said he couldn’t speculate whether the high temperatures could have been a factor in the teachers being uncomfortable or developing rashes.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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