By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — Regina Catholic Education Center has pushed back its first day of school from Aug. 19 to Aug. 23 after discovering mold in the elementary division of the preschool to 12th-grade building.
Elevated levels of Penicillium/Aspergillus, a non-toxic, allergenic mold that multiplies quickly, were found last week after a teacher reported mold in her classroom, according to an e-mail that Regina President Carol Trueg sent parents Monday.
An inspection suggested the mold’s source is a small leak in a shut-off valve above an air-handler unit and that the problem was magnified by high heat and humidity.
In response to the discovery, Regina arranged to replace the shut-off valve, to extend downspouts surrounding the building and to have the mold remediated. Because of the number of items in classrooms that need to be checked, remediation is taking longer than hoped, Trueg wrote.
When air quality tests show remediation is successful, and an inspector is convinced mold amounts have fallen to safe levels, he will give approval for school to begin.
As a precaution, Regina also tested some rooms in the junior/senior high building. The seventh-grade science room showed slightly elevated mold levels and will be remediated.
“While dealing with this issue was not a development that we would have wanted as we begin the school year, we do feel fortunate that, thanks to our dedicated staff who were working on their classrooms before they were required, we have found the issue before the start of school and students were in our classrooms,” Trueg wrote.
Mold is everywhere and does not cause health problems, but can worsen existing health issues, a Johnson County Public Health official told Regina.
“The safety and welfare of our staff and students is our number one priority and everything will be done to get the situation under control,” said Lee Morrison, superintendent of schools for the Davenport Diocese.
Because of the delay, activities that were scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 18, will take place Friday, Aug. 20, at the same times. Those activities include the seventh grade and new junior/senior high student orientation from 8-10 a.m., preschool open house from 10 a.m. to noon, and the elementary open house from 1:30-3 p.m.
To assist parents who rely on daycare, Regina asked parents and high-school students to volunteer to help families with young children. “If you have no other options for caring for your children on Thursday and Friday, please contact us and we will do all that we can to help you find care,” Trueg wrote.