Oxford School Mold Delays First Three Days Of School
Fairhaven is dealing with an unexpected and unpleasant surprise just days before the first day of school. Dr. Robert Baldwin announced that the opening of Oxford School (the temporary home of the Wood School) will be delayed until the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Dr. Baldwin said he was "devastated" after learning the results from an additional air quality test that was "done just as a formality". Those results showed elevated levels of mold spores, with the epicenter of the problem coming from the school's gym. Baldwin says that there is a possibility that the Wood School community may now have to be relocated to the Hastings Middle School. There will be additional air quality testing done on Monday, and then again on Wednesday. If those results are unsatisfactory, the Wood School family will have to pull off a the Herculean act of moving an entire school in just a matter of days. "It's not a place any of us thought we'd be," Baldwin said, "but it's the reality we face now."
After finding out about the air quality test results, many of the parents at the school committee meeting were concerned about the thought of sending their children to the Oxford School. Parent Kathy Fitzgerald worries what will happen once the heating system is turned on towards the end of fall. "Do WE get a vote? I'm concerned about the health and safety of all," said Fitzgerald. "Why should we put the kids at Oxford when there are other places they can go? There is nothing at this point that will make me feel good about sending my kids there. Why not move them somewhere else and take away the risk?"
Principal Amy Hartley-Matteson said when she first heard the news "flashes went through my head of all of my friends, my staff, that were in that building all summer long with their children, their babies, and my own children I was so relieved to hear that any symptoms would have been felt immediately."
Click below to hear more from Ms. Hartley-Matteson
Toxicologist, Dr. Kevin Miller, works for Fuss and O'Neill, the company that conducted the air quality tests. Dr. Miller says, "most of the reactions would be an allergic reaction...itchy eyes, runny nose...but depending upon the person it could trigger an asthmatic attack."
Principal Amy Hartley-Matteson says the bottom line is the test results need to be "safe, safe safe." If they are not, the Wood School family will not be housed at the Oxford School. She says the final call about where the Wood School will begin their school year will be made by Thursday. That leaves 5 days to move an entire school, if necessary. How will that get done? Hartley-Matteson was confident, "Are you kidding me? What do you do when you need help? You call on your friends."