Bedford Elementary School

Bedford Elementary School is shown in this Aug. 29, 2016, file photo.

The first day of school has been pushed back throughout the Bedford Area School District after tests showed elevated mold levels in several classrooms at Bedford Elementary School, officials announced Tuesday afternoon.

Classes were scheduled to start Wednesday, but they will now be delayed until Monday.

"We haven't decided exactly how, but we'll be making (missed days) up similarly to a snow day," Superintendent Allen Sell said.

Make-up days for the canceled classes will be held either on scheduled days off throughout the year or at the end of the school year.

District officials first learned on Aug. 18 that there was mold in some classrooms at the elementary school. They arranged for a laboratory to test air quality in each room and samples of the mold.

The results came back Tuesday, showing elevated levels of aspergillus mold in several first-floor rooms. In response, district officials hired Servpro, a cleaning company which specializes in mold remediation, to clean the affected areas, including filtering the air.

After the cleaning is finished, but before students return to school, the district will retest mold levels and air quality to make sure the affected rooms are safe.

Sell said the short notice of the delay was due to the fact that the mold wasn't noticed until last week and the test results didn't come back until Tuesday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aspergillus is a common mold species that poses little threat to those with healthy immune systems. For people with weakened immune systems, however, breathing in aspergillus spores can cause dangerous lung or sinus infections.

District officials learned in their research that aspergillus could also cause discomfort for students with respiratory issues, Sell said.

Casey Cover, administrative assistant to the superintendent, said that although the mold problem is limited to the elementary school, the district decided to delay classes for all its students. Sporting events and other extracurricular activities will continue as scheduled this week.

Sell said he's confident that, as of Monday, the mold level will have been reduced to the point where the affected classrooms are completely safe for students and teachers.

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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