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Capital School District retesting air quality at Booker T. Washington elementary following study revealing inconsistencies

The Capital School District is retesting HVAC systems at Booker T. Washington Elementary after a study flagged elevated mold levels, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide levels in some areas.

A total of 30 different samples were taken – seven had a higher mold spore count indoors than outdoors, and four were above the recommended carbon dioxide concentration, but less than requirements set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Ten samples also tested high for carbon monoxide, but still less than the requirement.

Superintendent Vilicia Cade says she received the results on September 5th, and ServPro Restoration Services started remediation on September 8th.

“And some of the things that were supposed to happen was the registers were supposed to be cleaned, the air filters were supposed to be changed, there was one area where there was ductwork that had to be cleaned," Cade says. "And so we remedied those recommendations that the compliance company asked us to apply.”

Cade says there are no federal or state agencies that regulate indoor air quality, but the Division of Public Health is aware of the results and has not issued any advisories to leave the building, nor were there any Title 16 violations related to health and safety.

In a September 28th letter to staff, Cade outlined more proactive and preventative measures to address the school’s air quality, including putting air purifiers and dehumidifiers in classrooms.

They are now retesting the systems, and Cade adds they are also assessing the cost of replacing a section of the roof over the gym and cafeteria.

“The roof over the cafeteria and the gym has been leaking for 12 years," Cade says "It has been patched several times. I am asking my facilities people to get an architect to assess what the cost would be to actually replace the roof.”

Cade says this reflects a nationwide issue – schools built in the early 20th century are no longer meeting student needs or building code requirements.

She says she plans on initiating HVAC studies in other district schools to evaluate air quality and remedy any other lingering issues.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.