AUGUSTA — Mold in a residence hall that displaced about 60 students at Southern Maine Community College last week has area colleges discussing their contingency plans if a similar emergency happens on their campuses.

SMCC officials told the Portland Press Herald that Spring Point Residence Hall would remain closed into September while mold remediation specialists assess the building. The residence hall is the largest and newest at the South Portland campus. The college attributed the problem to a malfunction in the dormitory’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

SMCC President Joseph Cassidy said students won’t be allowed back into Spring Point hall until all mold is remediated, a malfunctioning ventilation system is repaired and independent testing ensures that the building is 100 percent safe.

Students are being housed temporarily in another residence hall on campus.

MacKenzie Riley, a spokeswoman for Thomas College, said that school has not had mold problems in any of its buildings. She said only a few students stay in the residence halls during the summer, but the maintenance staff checks the halls “regularly.”

“The summer months gives maintenance ample time to do a deep clean and check for things like mold,” she said in an email.

In case of an emergency event that displaces students, such as a fire, Riley said, the college would activate its “campus emergency team” to make plan arrangements to house students.

The University of Maine at Augusta doesn’t have on-campus housing for students, but no mold has been found in a classroom or other building on campus, according to Executive Director of Planning and Communications Domna Giatas.

Giatas said that maintenance faculty and professors would work to keep the college operational if mold problems or another emergencies arose.

“We would find a way for classes to continue,” she said.

Indoor exposure to mold can cause upper respiratory tract symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing, and a stuffy nose, and red or itchy eyes or skin in healthy people, and can exacerbate symptoms in people with asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mold has affected some younger students in Kennebec County recently. In May last year, two rooms were closed off at Hall-Dale Middle School in Farmingdale when black mold was discovered. Earlier that school year, parents were concerned about mold levels at the Manchester Elementary School.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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