KINGSTON — Wyoming Valley West Middle School students will share space with students at the district’s high school after their building was closed Tuesday because of a mold problem.
School Board President Joseph Mazur announced at a board meeting Tuesday morning that the Chester Street school will be closed indefinitely.
“The building may be closed for three months, six months or forever,” Mazur said, estimating the cost of cleanup at about $100,000.
Later in the day, board Vice President David Usavage confirmed that middle-school students would share the district’s high school in Plymouth with high school students. He added that as of Tuesday afternoon, a schedule for the sharing of the high school had not been determined.
But, he said: “I would think that high school students would start out the day at the school for the prescribed amount of hours, and the middle-school students would attend in the afternoon.”
Mazur said originally the district thought that only two rooms of the middle school were affected by mold, but that an environmental specialist had indicated the problem was extensive.
The building was closed immediately after the school day Tuesday.
“We are closing the school down, and we will be determining the exact nature of the problem when the students are out,” Mazur said.
About a dozen parents who gathered for the meeting said they were pleased the school board had chosen to be aggressive in addressing the problem.
“This board has only been aware of mold during the last several weeks,” Mazur said. “And we’ve been working on it every day, like it was a full-time job.”
Cecilia Helda, of Forty Fort, who has two children at the school, said, “If there is one thing that we can learn from this whole experience, it’s that we hope that the administration and parents can work together with transparency and good communication.”
Joe and Lori Wasco, both of Plymouth, already had taken their daughter, Olivia, out of school.
The Wascos said their daughter had been absent for an entire week with symptoms they believe were related to the mold.
Olivia Wasco, a sixth-grade student, said many fellow students had been expressing concern about the presence of mold in the building.
“Someone was at their locker the other day, and they said they hoped the school would at least shut down the basement,” Olivia said.
Meanwhile, Usavage, when asked if teachers still will get paid, said: “Everyone is getting paid.”
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLGGibbons