Balto. Co. officials say school is safe despite mold

Parents question cause of illnesses at Elmwood

October 21, 2003|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County school officials assured anxious parents at Elmwood Elementary School last night that the school is safe despite mold in the library.

School officials threw away about 300 books and have closed the library until a ventilation problem that allowed the mold to grow has been fixed. They also said they have not seen any increase in the number of children having asthma attacks or getting sick.

Some of the 40 parents at the meeting in Elmwood's auditorium questioned whether the mold caused their children's recent stomach sickness, eczema and other health problems.

Michele Prumo, coordinator of the school system's health services, urged parents to speak up if children feel sick at school, but fine at home. She volunteered to work with the physicians of any ill children to help determine whether the building contributed to an ailment.

Parents expressed concern that the school has a serious problem, since a kindergarten classroom had significant mold throughout the last school year.

Reginald Ringgold, the school system's environmental services specialist, said he decided to close the library as a precaution, not because the school is unsafe.

Ringgold said all schools, particularly those without air conditioning, have had more mold than normal because of the year's wet weather.

Janet Cook said she thought the mold could have worsened her 7-year-old son's allergies after he returned to school from a three-week illness. Last night's meeting didn't make her feel better, she said.

"They don't have a plan to prevent this from ever happening again," she said after a PTA official disbanded the meeting when emotions ran high.

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