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Moldy school in Germantown to remain closed during repairs

Mold problem 80 percent fixed, district says.
John B. Kelley Elementary School in Germantown. (Google Maps)

A Germantown elementary school will remain closed Friday and possibly longer until a mold problem in the school's walls is fixed, the School District of Philadelphia announced Thursday.

Mold was discovered at John B. Kelley Elementary School on Wednesday, and the school was promptly shut down.

"Due to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning issues and condensation damage, traces of mold were found in several classrooms," the school district said Thursday. "Immediately, a comprehensive plan to remediate the mold and investigate the cause was put in place."

The district said it would again update school families on Sunday at 5 p.m., but it "will not reopen the school until it is mold-free."

Mold can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation and skin irritation, particularly among children.

Students have been asked to report to Hill Freedman World Academy at 1100 Mt. Pleasant Ave. while repairs are conducted by what the district described as "a highly qualified and experienced environmental remediation contractor" who began clearing the mold at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Philly teachers union, however, called the mold an example of "unacceptable" conditions in city schools and said "the district's approach to managing school building conditions has proven costly, dangerous and disruptive to our students and school staff."

"The PFT and staff at J.B. Kelly reported mold and other issues to the district long before it became a news story this week," Philly Federation of Teachers (PFT) officials said in a statement. "Instead of taking proactive – and cost-effective – steps to remediate the mold when it was first reported, the district allowed the situation to worsen to the point that the school had to be closed to address the issue."

The district did not immediately respond to the PFT's claims.

The mold remediation at the school was 80 percent finished as of Thursday afternoon, according to the district.