The Roosevelt Teachers Association organized a protest and march last week. They say a malfunctioning heating and cooling system has led to a buildup of mold over the months the school was unoccupied due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school district this week said there’s no mold danger at the building.
Sal Finelli is president of the teachers association for the district and a science teacher at the middle school. He says when he and his fellow teachers returned the building on September 14, they found two music rooms with instruments covered in mold.
“We opened cabinets and it looked like someone threw up in them,” Finelli said. “It’s disgusting.”
Finelli obtained a copy of a report from an environmental consulting firm in July that recorded the presence of “isolated areas of mold growth” and recommended an inspection of the heating and cooling systems. Finelli says the teachers weren’t informed and alleges the district didn’t order any additional air testing until September.
Finelli told Patch he doesn’t feel confident the district can deal with COVID-19 health procedures in light of the handling of the mold issue.
“They found mold in 12 rooms. We’ve gone to the Board of Education and said, ‘Would you send your kids to this school?'”
Students are slated to return to the building October 19. Finelli said he wants parents in the district to be aware of the mold and voice their concerns at board meetings and to the administration.
On Monday, a pop-up notification on the school district’s website read: “We would like to inform the community that there is presently no mold danger at any of our facilities.”
Emails to Roosevelt Superintendent Dr. Deboarah Wortham were not returned as of Wednesday.
Finelli told Patch the teachers association has called the Department of Health to report the issue.
“It’s just not safe” for the teachers to be in the building as the HVAC system is fixed, he said. “All the dust and mold that will be kicked up — we are really fighting for our life. In the private sector they would close the buildings while it was worked on.”
The teachers are planning additional protests in the coming weeks and Finelli said he would want access to any future safety reports to feel comfortable going forward. As for now, he feels the building isn’t safe for teachers or for the return of the students in two weeks.
“Kids can’t come here,” he said.
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