PITTSBURGH - The new school year is getting off to a slow start for at least five districts in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties dealing with mold.
On Tuesday, Shaler High School became the latest school to postpone the start of class due to mold found in two rooms. The district has extended summer break by nearly a week to air out the high school.
The decision comes less than 24 hours after Plum postponed the start of the school year until Sept. 4 due to mold found in classrooms.
Both districts say the decision was made due to extreme caution, not any direct danger to students.
"The buildings were safe to go into, but they're not as safe as they could be," said Dr. Brendan Hyland, superintendent of Plum. "If we had potential mold in one area and then we're hearing from another school, we decided to test all of our schools to make sure they're in fact safe for our students."
Allegheny County Health Department Environmental Health Administrator David Namey said he’s glad to see schools are acting swiftly to deal with the issue.
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“Given the amount of rain and humidity we’ve had this summer, I’m not surprised schools are dealing with mold,” he said.
Namey said the types of mold found can cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma.
"I think it's great that school districts are taking adequate precautions to assure that students aren't going to be affected by mold in their school environment," he said.
Plum administrators will meet with environmental officials this week and check on classrooms more regularly next summer to try and prevent future issues with mold.
The issue isn't unique to schools, and could be a problem for local homes, too.
The big difference is that schools cater to hundreds of kids at a time, some with conditions that weaken their immune systems and increase their risk of getting sick. Therefore, homes usually don't require the same drastic action taken by schools.
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