A Rowan County middle school is in its third week of remote learning while crews work to clean mold found in the HVAC system.
Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz has been following every development at West Rowan Middle School.
A spokesperson for Rowan-Salisbury Schools said they are making progress on the cleanup. Crews are working 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week on repairs and mitigation to get students back in the school, the district said.
“As cleaning progresses, we are receiving promising reports from initial testing, and we will provide a firm timeline for reentry to families on Friday,” the spokesperson said.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: West Rowan Middle extends remote learning to Sept. 9 after mold discovered at school, officials say
Channel 9 learned last month that the school would have to throw out every ceiling tile in the building. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said ceiling tiles that remain wet for extended periods can harbor mold.
“I know that we are currently having our contractors working 84 hours a week,” said Anthony Vann, chief operations officer for the district.
Goetz saw workers in masks and jumpsuits sweeping outside the school and long vents running inside during the first week of cleaning in late August.
“And this is what they do. They, they clean facilities,” Vann said.
School officials won’t name the company doing the work, but there were DUCTZ vans in the parking lot. The company’s website said it specializes in HVAC restoration, air duct cleaning and indoor air quality.
This all started on Aug. 3, when school officials said some suspicious growth was reported inside the building and that it was cleaned.
Then on Aug. 17, there were more reports of growth. That was tested and results on Monday showed two types of mold.
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Those results led to the deep cleaning currently going on, but some parents are asking how it got this far.
“They knew something was happening. Why wasn’t it investigated before the school actually opened? Why couldn’t they delay school starting by two weeks and extend it by two weeks at the end?” said Amber Huneycutt.
With the return date now extended to Sept. 9, some parents are once again worried about remote learning setbacks.
On Sept. 6, the district told Channel 9 it will provide a firm timeline to families on Friday.
Remote learning concerns
Huneycutt said her heart goes out to all the families struggling during the unexpected stretch of remote learning.
“What about all these other children? What about the ones that don’t have internet or the ones that get lost in the translation of where are they? Are they being abused? Things like that?” she said.
Huneycutt said her two children were excited for school to start, but now said she’s worried that they will fall behind. She said her son did during remote learning due to COVID-19.
“It was awful. He was a sixth grader reading at a second grade level. He dropped to a kindergarten level because he just was not engaged,” she said.
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She said her son’s teachers are helping him make big strides in the classroom, but with that not being an option currently and both parents working, his little sister is doing her best to help out.
“I have to sit next to him and make sure he’s doing his work and I have to tell him, ‘You need to get on your school work,’” Honeycutt said. “It’s hard because you don’t have teachers sitting next to you to ask, ‘Hey, I need help.’”
School officials said there are other remote learning issues that it is also working to remedy.
Free lunches can be picked up at West Rowan Elementary School between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each weekday. And breakfasts will be provided with lunches on Mondays through Thursdays.
The school’s website lists virtual office hours, along with when and where students can access hot spots if they don’t have Wi-Fi at home.
The school will be evaluated again on Sept. 6 to determine if it’s safe for students to return.
For more information on free lunches being offered during remote learning, click here.
(WATCH BELOW: West Rowan Middle extends remote learning to Sept. 9 after mold discovered at school, officials say)