By Isabella Pilot ’18
On July 29, a large storm dumped over five inches of rain in Sandy Spring and subsequently flooded Sherwood. While the flood damage was cleaned up immediately, mold growth was later noticed in the building throughout the month of August, leaving teachers, parents, and students wondering if it would be safe to return to school on time.
The flood originated in the courtyard due to a dated drainage system. From there, flood water entered various classrooms in the downstairs art hall. “Building services cleaned the flood damage, but what was found afterwards was surface mold,” said Principal Bill Gregory. Specifically, mold was found in three downstairs classrooms and one upstairs. “One of the classrooms above the flooded areas had quite a bit of mold. It was the little theatre [G236], where we have carpeting, and the carpeting was all removed and replaced with tile,” said Gregory.
Later on in August, during preservice week, mold was noticed in 22 additional classrooms. “It didn’t cause a need to close the building, but some rooms were closed off to be cleaned,” said Gregory. This cleaning was performed by Rolyn, a mold remediation contractor hired by MCPS, and from there a third party industrial hygienist, Hillmann Consulting, was brought in to conduct air sampling and visual inspection.
Hillmann’s sample results from August 27 showed that, after remediation, there was no apparent mold growth in the affected areas, and by August 28, teachers were able to once again occupy their classrooms.
While various sports teams and staff members were in the building during the month of August Gregory said that aside from the rooms under containment, “the building was absolutely safe.” There were no reports of reactions or irritation due to the growth.
According to Gregory the courtyard has flooded before, but Sherwood has never seen damage quite this bad. From James Song, the Director of Facilities Management, all the way to Superintendent Jack Smith, members of MCPS central office were visiting Sherwood and working around the clock to ensure that no student, staff member, or visitor was harmed by the mold.
“The school system committed to finding the root cause of the issue. Part of it is the drainage, but they’re also looking at heating in the building. It’s an older building and they’re ensuring that everything is up to code and safe for students. That was a promise,” said Gregory.