Westport Primary School ‘is not a dangerous building’

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WESTPORT — Air quality and mold concerns have been addressed and resolved at Long Lots School, Superintendent Thomas Scarice announced Wednesday morning.

The main areas of concern were the auditorium, which reopened in December after a successful retest, and Room 9, which remains unused as officials continue to tend to the space.

“Long Lots Primary School is not a dangerous building,” Scarice said in a message to families on Wednesday. “This statement is supported by comprehensive testing by industrial hygienists. The district will work vigilantly to ensure appropriate levels of indoor air quality are maintained.

He said the district was working with Langan CT, industrial hygienists, to create a plan to continue to monitor key indicators of mold, such as dampness in buildings.

“This will allow for rapid responses should compromised conditions emerge,” Scarice said. “This will be done visually and digitally by regularly monitoring temperature and humidity levels, as well as periodic air sampling from various areas of the building performed by Langan.”

Air quality and possible mold issues in the building were raised last year, prompting the school to carry out a comprehensive indoor air quality assessment, which was carried out by Langan Inspection on July 30.


The assessment included a visual inspection, both inside and outside the building. It also involved “full air sampling” of 22 indoor spaces and six outdoor spaces, Scarice said.

“This valuable assessment demonstrated that the Long Lots School’s indoor air (meaning the air that individuals breathe) was within normal ranges when tested for spores and particles. fungal except for two locations, the Auditorium and Room 9,” he wrote. . “Both of these locations demonstrated slightly elevated levels of Aspergillus/Penicillium compared to outdoor air.”

Scarice said the higher spore count in Room 9 came from a door that leads to an underground crawl space alongside the building.

“This room remains problematic and will remain offline for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The room was added last year to the Long Lots building study, which was presented to the school board last month. The report described potential renovations and discussed the possibility of building a new school.

Scarice said the reports are being used to develop a holistic approach to the whole building and any solutions to address spores in Room 9 will be added to the school board’s long-term capital plan. The consultant, Colliers International, is working on long-term recommendations.

“I want to assure the community of Long Lots that this is a high priority for the council and district administration, and there is no intention of letting this decision-making process languish,” did he declare. “Mid-April is our goal to publicly share the long-term options and we intend to achieve that goal.”

Since updating in September, Scarice said an additional small area in some ceiling tiles in a non-teaching area of ​​the building had also been repaired.

“As a matter of protocol, in these cases, the source of water incursion is identified, treated to prevent further incursion, and tiles are replaced as appropriate,” he said.

In September, Scarice spoke to families about the mold and how the district planned to fix it.

“According to the CDC, Aspergillus/Penicillium is a common mold that lives indoors and outdoors, and since most people breathe in fungal spores every day, ‘It’s probably impossible to completely avoid breathing in some Aspergillus spores. For people with a healthy immune system, breathing in Aspergillus is not harmful,” Scarice wrote at the time and reiterated in his post on Wednesday.

He said it doesn’t “minimize any compromise to indoor air quality”, and acknowledged that it could lead to health issues for people with mold allergies. He said the district is following Environmental Protection Agency protocols for any mold found and addressing it immediately, while identifying the cause to prevent it from happening again.

“We correct as necessary using proper containment procedures and negative air pressure, then clean and retest before reoccupying the space,” Scarice said.

He said they are also proactively trying to prevent this from happening by using the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and keeping moisture out.

Scarice encouraged parents to read the reports in the meantime, adding any changes to the timeline or further updates will be sent to families.

“Thank you for your patience as we seek to expedite this process so that a long-term strategy is publicly debated and decided upon to move this work forward in a timely manner,” he said.

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