DEEP RIVER, Conn. (WTNH) — The Deep River Board of Education agreed to move forward with hiring specialists and vendors to address the mold at John Winthrop Middle School.
The board also agreed to start training maintenance and facility staff so they can re-enter the building safely.
It’s been one month since students and staff at John Winthrop Middle School were forced to relocate to Valley High School because of mold found in 21 out of the 72 areas that were tested.
While middle school students and teachers are adjusting to sharing the building, administrators are working to figure out how to address the mold problem. They’ve been working with several health agencies, but Superintendent Brian White said it will take time before the school is safe to return to.
“I think it’s hard to speculate a timeline, but our hope would be in the matter of weeks, we will have people actively in the building to do the work that’s necessary,” he said. “We are trying to expedite things, and I think part of what the board did this evening was direct the administration to move as quickly as possible.”
About 250 middle schoolers joined the high school, bringing the student total to 712. The adjustment has been challenging for some. Kathryn Ryan, a teacher at Valley High, said her classroom has been moved around several times.
“Every move gets a little bit better, but it’s like doing the first week of school every week here ,and that’s getting tiring,” she said.
The Valley High School principal said there is enough space for each class to be in a classroom, and that there aren’t any classes happening in the hallways.
Since the mold was discovered, teachers have been unable to retrieve their personal items and teaching equipment from the school. Jennifer Blalock, the technical education teacher at John Winthrop Middle School, worries certain equipment will be damaged.
“The moisture problem is a big deal, and it’s not teacher supplies like a SMART Board, it’s so much more,” she said. “It’s a computer lab, it’s drill presses that are rusting.”
The principal of the middle school told the board extra curriculums and programming has resumed for middle school students. She added that students will also be getting lockers again.
Parents of middle and high school will be getting a letter explaining the latest update. There will be another meeting with a superintendent’s report on Oct. 18.