SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Rowan-Salisbury Schools started class just about two weeks ago, but already, some students are back at home.

West Rowan Middle School informed families they will close the school for the rest of the week due to the detection of “microbial growth” in the HVAC system.

In a message sent to parents, the district said janitorial staff notified the community of mold earlier this month. Still, when they brought in an independent consultant to test for mold, it returned negative. They said on Aug. 17, more mold was detected, and this time, the test came back positive.

“I was weary and scared,” said Lauren Rowland, who has three kids at West Rowan Middle School. “It’s hard on us parents too, because it goes from us working our 9-5 every day, and then having to be home with the kids all day.”

But it’s not just frustrations over missing work that upset parents; it’s the potential physical health effect on their kids.

Queen City News spoke to at least four parents who said their kids had had asthma flare-ups since school started. One agreed to talk to us under the condition of anonymity.

“She’s had the worst cough that she’s had in a long time,” said the mother. “We had notifications from her asthma doctor letting us know they were monitoring her and wanting to know what was going on because her stats were falling.”

While students learn at home, the district will give families iPads and Wi-Fi hotspots to help them with online learning. Pickup for those devices is at West Rowan High School on Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

They’ll also offer meals to students in need at West Rowan Elementary School through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parents must register their children for those meals by 9 a.m. on Wednesday. They can do so by clicking this link.

Some students say they feel sad about having to return to remote learning.

“They’re kind of disappointed. It’s their first year in middle school, and you know, this ain’t the way they thought it would start out,” said the anonymous mother.


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Parents are also wondering if there was a better way to prevent this from happening.

“I’m not angry; I’m disappointed. Because somebody knew that it was here,” said the mother.

A representative from Rowan-Salisbury Schools says they can’t precisely say when students will be able to head back to class, but they know it will take about ten days to clean the ventilation system thoroughly.