Howard County devises program to fix mold problems in schools

Howard County is rolling out a pilot program to address concerns about mold and indoor air quality in its school system. On Friday, officials toured Hammond High School in Columbia and spoke to students about their efforts.

Shawn Garvin, the regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency, was there taking questions from a 12th-grade science class about how the agency tests for mold.

“The community and school here is really stepping out collaboratively with the parents, the PTA, the board, the administration and most importantly, the students, to say, ‘how can we take ownership inside our four walls?’” Garvin said.

Concerns about mold are not new for Howard County schools. There have been ongoing complaints from parents and teachers, even a Facebook page.

Howard County Board of Education officials acknowledged Friday that their work is just beginning.

“We learned a lot about communication, we learned a lot about humidity,” said Janet Siddiqui from the board.

In September 2015, the board formed an indoor environmental quality committee made up of staff, teachers, environmental consultants, parents and students.

“Each school will form their own team,” said Siddiqui. “They’ll develop a plan very similar that will involve the parents, community, the students, the administration and follow the guidelines in place.”