N.J. school to shut down for months during mold cleanup

Manchester Township Middle School, near Toms River in New Jersey, likely will be closed until at least November as crews clean up recently discovered mold.

District superintendent David Trethaway said the mold was discovered last week, and its growth was likely triggered after a power outage in July knocked out the building’s air conditioning for a few days.

Trethaway said the second floor of the school is not affected, but the first floor will have to essentially be gutted. 

“Replacing ceiling tiles, replacing all of the carpet in the building, insulation, things like that,” Trethaway said.

Until cleanup is complete, middle school students will split time with older students at the district’s high school. Trethaway said the shortened five-hour days still will provide more than the state minimum of required classroom time.

“We’re still meeting requirements, but obviously any time that you lose some instruction, there’s going to be an impact,” Trethaway said. “We’re going to have creatively to supplement that, whether it’s going to be outside assignments online, things like that.”

Michael Reilly, the owner of Servpro, the Toms River company contracted to do the cleanup at Manchester, said the weather this summer has been prime for mold growth.

“It’s been quite busy, I can’t say it hasn’t been,” Reilly said. “We definitely have a lot of humidity, a lot of issues, not just in schools, in public buildings, but in households.”

The more harmful “black mold” was not found at the school. Still, more common molds cause allergic reactions in about a quarter of the population, according to Reilly.

He worked on a smaller school in Barnegat, N.J., last fall that closed around the same time for mold cleanup and was not reopened until January.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.