Coleytown Middle School closed for the week due to health concerns
WESTPORT — A rise in absences and parents’ concern for the safety of Coleytown Middle School students amid ongoing mold issues prompted Westport’s superintendent to close the school for the rest of the week.
“The number of absent students exceeded 50, which is double the typical rate, and the nurse’s office handled dozens of students who complained of various health complaints today. Some students and staff have expressed their individual concern about remaining in the school environment, and it was difficult for the nursing staff to determine if the presenting health issues were impacted by the anxiety of those in the school in addition to any other presenting medical symptoms,” Westport Superintendent Colleen Palmer wrote in an email to Coleytown Middle School families around 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
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“Therefore, in an abundance of caution and to reassure our families and staff that this school continues to be a safe environment, Coleytown Middle School will be closed Thursday, Sept. 20, and Friday, Sept. 21 after the scheduled school holiday of Wednesday, Sept. 19,” Palmer wrote. “This period of time will allow the District to conduct a further assessment of the school environment, and all data collected will be shared with all families. These testing results will be prioritized for expedited processing in order that we can confirm through our team of environmental and medical consultants that the school reopens on Monday.”
Mold, an ongoing issue at Coleytown Middle School, was first identified at the school in August 2016, at which point school officials estimated the work would be complete by the end of the calendar year. Over the summer, a failure of the school’s air circulation coupled with hot and humid weather caused mold to resurface at the school and led to more than half the school needing remediation, which was completed just days before the first day of school on Aug. 28, Palmer said.
“When this mold issue was first identified in the summer, the District considered various scenarios in the event the building would not be ready for the start of school or available for some portion of the school year. If, at any point in time, the school facility is found not to be appropriate for safe use, the District will relocate the students and staff to an alternate location,” Palmer wrote.
A parent meeting to discuss mold remediation is scheduled for Thurdsay evening, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Bedford Middle School auditorium, Palmer said.
“We continue to hold the safety and well-being of our students and staff as the highest priority. All testing, reports, and findings will continue to be made available to the public. The health of our children will not be compromised, and we will work in full transparency as these difficult issues are addressed. I encourage you to speak with your students about all the precautionary steps that are being taken so that they understand how carefully and thoughtfully we are handling this stressful situation,” Palmer wrote.
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