“The parents know we’re going to do everything necessary to keep their kids safe,” Riley said. “I’ve yet to meet a parent who feels this is a widespread problem, but we take this issue seriously and we’ll be overly cautious in our approach.”
Picking up her sixth-grade grandson and second-grade granddaughter from the school yesterday, Zoraida Lebron said she was not fully reassured.
“I thought they fixed that,” she said about the earlier mold infestation.
“She’s asthmatic,” Lebron said, indicating her granddaughter. “If there’s mold, they’re gong to have to take care of that. That can be life-threatening to a person who’s asthmatic.”
McLaughlin, the teachers union president, said Riley has not gone far enough in responding to concerns that mold has returned to Guilmette.
“There’s a pregnant teacher in there,” he said about a classroom adjoining classroom 105 at the school, where the new mold outbreak was discovered. “Her doctor said that until this problem is resolved, (she) shouldn’t be going to school. She’s afraid. They’re all afraid. But they left the kids in there.”
Last week, McLaughlin released a letter a Guilmette employee sent to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration saying staff are suffering from “chronic, recurring symptoms such as coughing, bronchitis, sinus infections, asthma symptoms, swollen glands and unexplained tiredness and burning under the eyelids.” OSHA redacted the writer’s name and forwarded the letter to the state Department of Health.
Statistics provided by a school spokesman show student attendance at Guilmette nudged up through April of this year compared to the same period last year, while staff attendance dropped slightly.
Visits to the nurse also are down, from 8,004 at about this point last year to 7,810 this year, said the spokesman Chris Markuns.