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Mold Problem Closes Wyoming Valley West Middle School

KINGSTON — A school in Luzerne County could be closed for months because of a mold problem. Wyoming Valley West Middle School in Kingston is now closed, a...

KINGSTON -- A school in Luzerne County could be closed for months because of a mold problem.

Wyoming Valley West Middle School in Kingston is now closed, and officials say it could remain closed for as long as six months.

Last week, mold was discovered in two classrooms, but over the weekend, an inspection found the problem is much more widespread.

School leaders announced at a meeting Tuesday that the middle school has a bigger mold problem than they first thought.

An inspector found mold in the building's basement, the cafeteria, and on the walls of several classrooms. The school district closed the school at the end of the day on Tuesday.

Some parents feel left in the dark.

"I just wish we were informed from the beginning to kind of give us an idea of what was going on," said one parent. "Had parents been made aware, things could have been handled a little differently, instead of being clueless, like something new going on, why is my child sick?"

The district plans to get rid of the mold and students will be home for the rest of the week.

"So we have to make some plans to figure out how we're going to get rid of it," said school board member Brian Dubaskas.

Some parents wondered why the school was open at all Tuesday.

"I was shocked because the word started going around yesterday," said parent Tammy Gregorowicz.

District leaders say they had inspectors checking the building until late Monday night, and didn't know the extent of the mold until Tuesday morning.

Gregorowicz called the middle school Tuesday morning, saying her son Aiden, a seventh grader, would be home sick.

"He said he was sick to his stomach!" she said.

That was before she heard about the extent of the mold problem.

"I was shocked! I thought, oh my gosh, maybe there's some link between this."

Still, school was still in session Tuesday on the first and second floors of the building. Keri Stampian took her kid out of school, though, worried about exposure to the mold.

"There's been several issues with headaches," Stampian said.

School district leaders do not know where the moisture is coming from that's causing the mold, but they also have not found any signs of mold elsewhere in the building. They say a full building inspection will begin Wednesday.

"Every room will be checked, and any mold that is found in any of the rooms will be cleaned," Wyoming Valley West Superintendent Irvin Deremer said.

Donnie Evans is a mold remover with Roof Cleaning Pros. He says if the rest of the building still needs to be inspected, classes should have been canceled on Tuesday.

"It's dangerous," Evans said. "It would be a health hazard. You could get sick from it. It could go in your lungs."

Now, the district plans to send middle school students over to the high school starting next week, giving all student half days.

High school students will attend class in the morning while middle schoolers will go in the afternoon.

Kylie Hughes will have to pick up her little brother in the afternoon, amid her schedule as a full-time college student and a part-time job.

"That makes it even harder because I work, my mom works, and we also have two little brothers and sisters, so it's going to be so crazy."

School leaders say they do not know the full extent of the mold problem at Wyoming Valley West Middle School.