Aquebogue Elementary School has been dealing with a mold and mildew problem inside the building, Riverhead Central School District officials have said in a statement published on the district website and in a robo-call to parents of students in the K-4 building.
The hot, humid weather followed by consecutive days of rain “has resulted in a mildew-type smell in the air and, in a few locations [and] has produced mold on surface areas,” according to the online statement signed by building principal Phil Kent and Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez.
The district has been working with the environmental consulting firm J.C. Broderick and Associates “to remediate the situation” and “ensure our building is safe for occupancy,” according to the statement.
The consulting firm collected samples from within the building and has informed the district “there is no airborne mold concern,” the officials said.
“Over the last few days, our facilities staff has replaced ceiling tiles in affected areas and thoroughly cleaned surface areas using a nontoxic disinfectant cleaner, as recommended by J.C. Broderick and Associates. The cleaning product, Virex II 256, is used in healthcare facilities and is known to kill a broad spectrum of microorganisms,” Kent and Henriquez wrote.
Virex II 256 kills bacteria, viruses, fungi and mildew, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is designed for cleaning and disinfecting hard, non-pourous surfaces.
Children returned to their classrooms today after a four-day weekend. School was not in session Monday and Tuesday due to the Rosh Hashanah holiday.
Officials did not state whether all classrooms in the building have been cleared for occupancy.
The district did not explain why ceiling tile replacement was necessary or if the tiles and areas of the building were affected with mold and mildew as a result of any leaks in the roof or water pipes or a problem with the building’s ventilation system.
Ceiling tile replacement has taken place in classrooms over the past couple of years, according to some Aquebogue Elementary School staff members who spoke to RiverheadLOCAL on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized by the district to speak to the press.
Some past and present members of the Aquebogue PTO recalled a cascade of water streaming through the ceiling into the hallway during the building’s annual fall craft fair two years ago. They said they reported the flood to a custodial worker, who put a trash can under the leak, which they believed was subsequently repaired.
The red brick elementary school, located on Main Road in Aquebogue, was originally built in 1929 and expanded in the 1950s.
Beginning in December 2012, the school underwent a $3.8 million renovation and expansion as part of the district-wide $78.3 million capital construction project.
The work included a partial roof replacement, wall renovations, classroom and other interior improvements, interior layout revisions, installation of a moveable partition in the gymnasium, and replacement of the ventilation system and boilers, according to the district’s architects, BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers. The renovations incorporated numerous green features and materials, including a new roof that features thermal insulation, the architects said in a 2012 press release.