A Fairfield County middle school that was forced to shutter its doors in September due to mold concerns may not reopen for more than a year.
A report from engineering firms Kohler Ronan, LLC and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. that was recently returned found that Coleytown Middle School in Westport may not be able to safely reopen until January 2020 after the building was closed due to ongoing mold issues.
The emergency closure left the 450 Coleytown elementary school students and staff split between Bedford Middle School and Staples High School.
Officials said that the mold problem initially began in the summer of 2016, prompting an extensive cleanup plan that was scheduled to be completed before the end of the calendar year. However, complications - including the failure of the school’s air conditioning units — combined with hot, humid weather, caused the mold to resurface and spread like wildfire.
The report recommends that all roofs be replaced, and cited the building’s existing HVAC systems as the reason for elevated humidity indoors.
“In our opinion, regardless of the approach taken, implementation of new DOAS equipment to provide controlled/dehumidified ventilation will be necessary to re-occupy the building,” the report states. “It is our opinion that the earliest the school could likely be occupied, assuming a path is selected and additional investigation and design work begins immediately, would be January 2020.”
The 450 Coleytown students will continue to be split between the Bedford Middle School and Staples High School for the rest of the year. No determinations have been made for potentially housing students next year.
A Coleytown Middle School mold task force is expected to discuss the potential of returning to the building for the beginning of the next academic year at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, Feb. 4. The complete joint report from Kohler Ronan and Wiss, Janney and Elstner can be found here.
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