Cabrillo Unified School District has begun testing for mold at Farallone View Elementary School after a parent alerted administration about a suspicious smell in one classroom.
District Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said he was at a community meeting at the elementary school recently when the parent approached him and other Farallone View school leaders with concerns about mold.
The conversation led McPhetridge to ask the district maintenance team and business services office to coordinate with a vendor to begin testing for elevated levels of mold in the air. While they await results, the district has installed HEPA filters, which are designed to remove airborne particles, including mold.
McPhetridge said the district defers to professionals when it comes to health and safety issues, and that there will be multiple rounds of testing to confirm results. He said the testing will help determine whether mold spore levels are higher indoors at Farallone View than they are outdoors.
“This testing takes awhile,” McPhetridge said. “There will be multiple rounds to confirm results.”
McPhetridge informed parents and staff with a letter this week and met with the Parent Teacher Organization on Thursday to answer questions. He said the community is on high alert about mold because of recent issues at Cunha Intermediate School’s C Building, and that he understands their concerns.
“I wish things were different,” McPhetridge said, “but when we hear something, we have to investigate it. And we have to work with professionals, follow best practices and take their recommendations on how to address those concerns.”
While no national or state standards currently exist for regulating mold in classrooms, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Division of Occupational Health and Safety offer guides to address mold in schools and workplaces. According to the EPA guide, mold sampling can be useful to locate the source of the problem and monitor changes, but neither the state nor the federal governments have established science-based exposure limits for indoor molds.
While there are no government standards to regulate mold, federal authorities have expressed some health concerns related to the substance. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that mold has been linked to respiratory symptoms like coughing as well as asthma.
McPhetridge said there are no current plans to move students out of potentially affected classrooms because they cannot be sure whether the relocation site would be any safer.
“That would be premature,” McPhetridge said. “Right now, we’re just working on figuring out what the problem is.”