By JOHN HOWELL Parents, teachers and even a couple of students turned out to a Sept. 8 meeting at Veterans Middle School to learn of plans for Sherman School, which failed to open because of the presence of mold. Concerns focused on how long it might be
Parents, teachers and even a couple of students turned out to a Sept. 8 meeting at Veterans Middle School to learn of plans for Sherman School, which failed to open because of the presence of mold.
Concerns focused on how long it might be before in-person classes would be held, where, and what measures the department plans to take to remedy the situation. Also, parents expressed concern over the impact of distance learning during the past year and what would be done so that their children would not fall behind.
Superintendent Lynn Dambruch and Assistant Superintendent William McCaffrey expressed concerns over the level of mold found in the school. They said even after taking remedial action, mold was detected.
Although the level of mold was considered acceptable according to health guidelines, Dambruch explained she did not want to take the risk of opening the school, only to shut it down in an indefinite period. She and McCaffrey looked at multiple sites to move some or all of the classes, including the former St. Benedict School and two branches of the Warwick Boys and Girls Clubs.
Having decided it would be best to keep the school community together, the decision was made to relocate administrative offices from the first floor of the former Gorton Junior High School to the second floor, thereby creating the 17 classrooms needed to house Sherman and its 320 students. In addition, the administration took the step to expedite improvements to Sherman that had been scheduled for two years. The plan now calls for those improvements, which include a HVAC system for the school, to be completed by next summer in time for Sherman to reopen next fall.
Administrators expect Gorton will be ready to serve its role as the new Sherman by Oct. 1. If the cleaning of the Gorton rooms and moving of desks and chairs is completed sooner, in-person classes at Sherman will take place sooner.
Following the meeting, the Beacon asked these questions. Here are the answers provided by the administration:
Why wasn’t the presence of mold identified sooner so that remediation could be done sooner?
The mold was not discovered until mid to late August.
Assuming there was mold in the school last academic year, is there any danger or long-term effects to those students and staff who were exposed?
We have no knowledge of mold being in the building last year. Mold appears on surfaces and no one reported seeing any.
Will there be air filtration devices in the Gorton classes?
There will be two air purifiers in each of the classrooms at Gorton.
As Gorton is also being used for administrative offices with people coming and going, what measures are being taken to ensure the security of students in Gorton?
Security cameras will be in installed. The access control badge swipe system will be added to nine doors so people cannot access the first floor.
Will students who were bused to Sherman still be allowed to ride the bus if they are within walking distance of Gorton?
Students who were bused to Sherman in previous years will be bused to Gorton. Students who previously walked to Sherman will be picked up by a bus at Sherman and bused to Gorton.
As the intent is to do all the required upgrades to Sherman now rather than over several years, is it realistic to expect the school will be ready to open for the 2022 academic school year?
It is the intent to install an HVAC system, do all the necessary ADA improvements, install new exterior doors and windows, complete abatement projects and pave the parking lot. This work is scheduled to be completed in time to open for the 2022 school year.
Is the move to Gorton in any way changing protocols aimed at dealing with COVID? What measures will be taken to protect students from the virus?
The COVID protocols will remain the same at Gorton.