SPARTA, NJ — The Helen Morgan School resumed classes on Friday after closing one day as mold testing and remediation continued. According to an announcement from superintendent Dr. Michael Rossi, the environmental testing showed “no elevated levels in any other parts of the building.”
On Wednesday afternoon the district notified Helen Morgan parents the school would be closed on Thursday while they awaited test results.
Thursday’s letter from Rossi explained the remediation of annex of the Helen Morgan School containing the fifth grade classrooms was not yet complete and would remain closed. A speech room, a small group instruction room and a guidance room were closed when mold was detected in a desk drawer in the speech room.
Helen Morgan school principal Doug Layman sent a letter to the “HMS Community.” Layman explained the teachers and staff had met on Thursday morning to plan for the changes made necessary by the closing of the annex. In addition to classrooms the gymnasium is located in the annex.
Layman explained the fifth grade classrooms will be moved to the southern half of Helen Morgan. This, in turn, requires the specials teachers to become mobile, bringing instruction to the classroom. Some resource language arts and math classes will also have to be held in the general education classrooms. All of the specialized services will continue, just in other spaces in the building, Layman said.
With the gymnasium closed, dismissal parent pickup process will be slightly changed. The parents should follow the usual route around the right side of the building but the children will be released from the cafeteria, according to Layman.
Following the Mohawk Avenue School model, Helen Morgan students will be escorted to the car after the parent or guardian has been checked in by a staff member, Layman explained.
“I expect some delays with this process, so if possible I encourage parents to utilize the bus,” Layman said in the letter. “If pickup is necessary, please make sure the office has been notified well in advance. Anyone coming to pick up that is not on our list will not only be delayed themselves but will also delay the entire process.”
Layman said all relocated classrooms will have access to Chromebooks and basic supplies. The school has provided teachers with some of the basic items, with the assistance of the district supervisors. Layman said they were working with the central administration and other schools to get supplies for the students as well.
Scheduled back to school nights will go on as planned, according to Layman.
Layman said he expected the annex to be closed at least through the next week, though a timeline has not yet been confirmed by the remediation specialists.
Other schools will be tested beginning next week, according to Rossi. The high school will be tested first, followed by the middle school, Alpine Elementary School and finally Mohawk Avenue School.
Results of the air quality tests will be posted on the district website once all district testing is complete according to Layman.