As 3rd Midstate district fights mold, questions about environmental testing in schools


CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) – With a West Shore School District high school closed for mold, that brings to three the number of Midstate school systems dealing with the fungus this year.

West Shore said Wednesday Cedar Cliff High School will stay closed through at least the end of the week as they fix the problem and make sure there aren’t any others.

A week into the school year at the high school, a handwritten sign greets visitors at the door to the building reading, simply, “School closed.”

“They called my wife’s phone, my phone and our home phone,” Jeffrey Heagy said. Administrators told him and other parents Tuesday they found possible mold on pipes in part of the building.

“You have your children there and you don’t want to have mold issues or breathing issues with the children being in school,” Heagy said.

He picked up his 14-year-old daughter at the school before noon after her morning at Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School.

Those students spend a half-day at that campus and the other half at Cedar Cliff. They were the only ones making an appearance Wednesday as they off-loaded from buses to head home for the day.

“It’s a bit concerning,” Heagy said, “especially when they just had a mold problem over in East Pennsboro.”

East Penn was the first local district to discover mold problems at the beginning of last week.

Lower Dauphin School District also discovered high spore counts in the middle school air last week but said they fixed it before school started as scheduled Monday.

But why are these districts just now discovering the issues?

“I certainly think with the weather conditions as they have been and with the humidity,” WSSD superintendent Dr. Todd Stoltz said, “we have been vigilant in keeping an eye out for discolored tiles, all the signs that might indicate the suspicion of presence of mold.”

As it turns out, there’s no requirement in the state school code for environmental testing. The state Department of Health offers help interpreting test results to districts only after they discover the problem.

A bill sponsored by Philadelphia Democratic Sen. Art Haywood — and co-sponsored by Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Harrisburg — would require lead testing in schools, but there’s no language in it about mold.

Speaking by phone Wednesday, Teplitz said he’d be open to amending the bill to include that if and when it moves forward.

“I think that the school board or whatever,” Heagy said, “they should have inspectors going in there and inspecting them periodically.”

At this point, though, he just hopes kids can get back to class soon.

“It’s like it’s punishing the children of the high school,” he said.

No other WSSD schools have been closed due to mold. Administrators say they’re visually inspecting all the buildings in the district.

No word yet on any make-up days for the high schoolers.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC27 News App and the ABC27 Weather App for your phone and tablet.

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