Classes began yesterday at Hearst Elementary for the first time this school year after a mold outbreak forced its closure Tuesday.
Students reported to the playground area Wednesday morning and stood in class groups before school staff escorted them to classrooms that had been tested and cleared for occupancy.
Principal Mike Kuhfal also hosted an informational meeting for parents to discuss the school's problem with mold found in several classrooms.
A teacher prepping her classroom last week for the first day of school Tuesday discovered the first sign of mold contamination at Hearst, prompting the district to cancel classes last-minute for the nearly 700 students who attend the Case Avenue school.
Workers from an environmental consulting contractor spent the day Tuesday cleaning the fungi and carrying out further testing to see how much had spread on campus.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, mold can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.
The mold was first discovered in a fourth/fifth-grade classroom when the teacher noticed a shadow on the wall behind a bookcase. Maintenance crews tested the air in the room, which came back clear, but when they attempted to clean the mold up by cutting into the wall, they found it had spread between the drywall and stucco exterior of the classroom, Grasso said.
After some testing, the source of the contamination appeared to be near some speakers located outside the classrooms in the C building that project to the playground area. Water leaked into the speakers and mold spores formed. Further testing came back at 9:30 Monday night that showed more classrooms affected, bringing the total to 12, and Principal Kuhfal sent parents an email announcing the closure Tuesday. An automated message also went out.
Despite the late decision to cancel class, Grasso said most parents were able to make other arrangements for their children. Those who were not able to do that were able to drop their student off to be cared for by school staff in vacant classrooms and the library at Pleasanton Middle School. The district will be submitting an application for a waiver from the state for the missed day of school, Grasso said, adding the district will learn later whether it will have to be made up.
"Some parents came by, drove through the loop, and we had staff there to talk to them," she said. "I think we wound up with about a dozen students who stayed for the day."