Parents, here are answers to some of the questions you might have about mold in local schools:
Q. How do I know if my child is getting sick at school from mold?
A. Some children are more sensitive than others. But watch out for symptoms that seem to appear only at school – for example, wheezing, hoarseness, cough, runny nose, acid reflux, digestive issues, headache and irritated eyes.
Q. What can parents look for?
A. Visit your children’s classrooms and other parts of their schools. Do you see or smell mold or mildew? Are there signs of water leaks on walls, around windows or on the ceiling?
Just because you smell an earthy or musty odor at school doesn’t mean there’s mold. But it often means there’s at least an indoor air-quality problem. Dirty carpet and water damage might also mean mold and bad air quality. Mold grows where there’s moisture.
Q. How do I know if it’s mold?
A. If you see fuzzy, slimy, or discolored surfaces — especially in damp or wet areas — it’s probably mold. Molds can be green, black, gray, purple or even orange.
Q. What if I see a problem?
A. Alert your principal or a School Board member. A lot of times, it will take more than one call or e-mail to get a response. Although calls might be quicker, your letters will provide a paper trail. Also, be sure to log all your calls, letters and observations. Inform other parents of the problem.
Q. How can I protect my child?
A. Educate yourself. Talk to school officials about what they’re doing to control humidity and how quickly they’re fixing leaky roofs and windows. Ask to see copies of investigative reports and work orders for repairs and mold removal. This website contains a wealth of information that can help you and your child.
Teach your children about the health symptoms they may experience around mold so they can alert someone if there’s a problem. Symptoms are located on this website.
Research and talk to your doctor about Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act or Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). If your children have serious reactions to air quality, you can request an “accommodation” for their environmental health needs such as a transfer to another classroom.
Sources: Healthy Schools Network, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention