Record rain leads to mold problem in Virginia schools

Mold in a Virginia school. (Source: NBC12)
Mold in a Virginia school. (Source: NBC12)
Published: Mar. 7, 2019 at 1:43 PM EST
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Virginia’s record rainfall has caused quite a messy problem for schools – mold.

That has led to health issues for some students who had no idea the buildings where they were spending their day were causing them to get sick.

One such student was Aurora Malden, a student in Prince George County.

Brittany Malden is a mother of four. Two of her children go to Walton Elementary, but only Aurora kept getting sick, including a trip to the hospital.

“She started having symptoms way back last year in April, I think,” Malden said. “She started having these cough attacks.”

Even after months of antibiotics and steroid treatments, and an ambulance ride to VCU Medical Center, doctors could not determine what was wrong.

“They get exposed to stuff, they get sick,” Malden said. “But that cough just did not go away. She just could not stop coughing.”

Eventually, Malden wondered if an allergic reaction to mold could be causing the problem.

It was cases like that, Superintendent Renee Williams said, that led to the school being shut down and thoroughly cleaned.

“Initially we identified several classrooms,” Williams said. “The school board made the decision to test the whole school.”

Mold was found in six rooms, five of which were classrooms. The school was closed for two days so it could be cleaned.

Prince George is not alone. At least six Virginia schools and colleges have publicly dealt with mold since September.

Richmond Public Schools is among them, and Superintendent Jason Kamras called the problem criminal in his State of the Schools address.

Of Virginia’s 2,000-plus public schools, 40 percent are more than 50 years old. The state does not have a law requiring older schools to be tested. Teachers and parents generally have to sound the alarm for a test to be initiated.

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