PINE BUSH - Some students at Pine Bush Elementary School will be shuttled to Edward J. Russell Elementary School for several weeks while the district searches for possible mold in areas affected by a burst water pipe.
A letter from Superintendent Tim Mains posted to the district’s website, dated Thursday, said a ceiling pipe broke at Pine Bush Elementary in the early morning on Jan. 9, flooding a large part of the school’s first floor.
The water was immediately removed, and the district hired industrial hygienist John Evans of Adaptive Environmental Consulting of New York to do mold spore testing. Evans said he could not comment when reached on Monday.
Air tests done on Feb. 5 showed one classroom’s mold spore count was elevated, Mains said.
Students from three first-grade classrooms and one multi-age classroom are being moved to Russell Elementary for the project's duration. The pre-kindergarten class, four kindergarten classes and one second-grade class at Pine Bush Elementary have been moved to other spaces in that building.
Roughly 200 students have been relocated.
Mains said Monday the project is expected to take about four weeks, depending on what workers find.
Mold spores are always present in the air, according to the New York State Department of Labor website, but there are no national or state standards for “safe” levels.
After receiving the test results, the district planned the project to investigate how much, if any, mold was growing behind the walls.
Work began on Friday, when students had an early dismissal, and continued on Monday, when students had a three-hour delay.
Students and staff were never in danger, Mains said, but the district hopes to avoid potential future issues.
He said he knew some parents were upset with the short notice, but the administration weighed the risk of waiting when deciding to move forward. He sent out a robocall notifying parents on Wednesday night as soon as plans were finalized.
“I’m sensitive to the fact that people feel like they should’ve had more notice,” he said. “I get that, but we acted in order to make sure, to guarantee, that we were able to contain this before there was a problem.”
No cost estimate was immediately available for the work, but Mains said the school's insurance should cover the project.
Mains said he plans to provide regular updates to parents and staff throughout the process.