RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. – Mold spores have been discovered at Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary School, so students will start the semester in virtual classrooms.

Administrators said students have not been in the building since Dec. 21, 2022, before the mold spores were found.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our community, and we will be taking all necessary precautions to ensure in-person learning can occur,” Dr. Bonita Jamison, MRH Superintendent, said Sunday. “However, not at the expense of the wellbeing of our students and staff.”

“Because the air quality in some areas of the school did not fall within the acceptable range, the decision was made to transition students back virtually until we receive confirmation that the air quality in our school meets the standard,” Jamison said.

A water pipe burst on Christmas Day, leaving behind an inch of water throughout the entire first floor of the elementary school. The district brought in professionals to clean up and test the air, and that’s when they found the mold spores.

Students were originally set to be back in the classrooms on Jan. 3, 2023, but the district gave students the entire week off while contractors worked. Administrators are working on a plan for what happens next.

“We are solidifying an alternative plan to provide in-person instruction off campus for all students if the air quality reports it is unsafe for anyone to return to campus,” Jamison said.

The superintendent said another air quality assessment will happen Monday. After they receive the results, they’ll then determine if it’s safe for students to return to the building.