Documents: Over 30 Horry County schools requested work orders over mold, mildew concerns since 2015

Updated: Mar. 15, 2019 at 5:22 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – St. James Elementary School has been proclaimed free of amplified mold spores after several rounds of testing and cleaning.

The district alerted parents on Thursday that the fifth round of testing revealed that mold spores are not amplified in room E-100, which is where test results have shown to be a problem area for mold since the end of November.

After mold became a concern at St. James, WMBF News put in a request for work orders at Horry County Schools since February 2015 that contained the words mold, mildew, humidity and air quality. We received about 90 pages worth of documents and some of those work orders contained concerns about mold growing in several different schools.

North Myrtle Beach Middle School, Conway High School, Lakewood Elementary School and Forestbrook Middle School are just some among the more than 30 schools where staff described potential mold and mildew issues over the last four years.

Documents show requests for things like mold growing on ceilings, tiles and walls in Lakewood Elementary School in 2015.

The action taken shows that the district’s maintenance crews cleaned the area with mold and mildew cleaner, sanded and painted it.

“It’s the information given to the best of their ability based on the situation that’s going on, so that’s assigned to personnel that will go out based on that information and walk it with the individual to see exactly what’s going,” Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said.

More recently, a work order filed at Forestbrook Elementary School on Feb. 6 requests an indoor air quality test, saying that six employees have reported getting sick after staff were surveyed and 10 rooms have visible mold on the walls.

Horry County Schools responded to the request advising the requester or the nurse at the school to contact health services. The district said the work order can serve as a means to start the removal process, if necessary.

Gerrid Clark, a mold remediation expert, took a look at the work orders and the action taken on some of the requests.

“It looks like they did it right, but over here if you look, it says they cleaned it up, but they found a high level of moisture inside the property, so they changed a filter. I didn’t see any sort of moisture control in this at all whatsoever,” Clark said.

Clark said if you’re dealing with mold, the root of the problem has to be addressed or it won’t go away.

“You gotta follow protocol. Without protocol, you’re never going to fix the problem,” Clark said.

Horry County Schools said it receives 20,000 to 25,000 work orders every year. Bourcier said the district has roughly 400 employees to maintain 7.8 million square feet of facilities.

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