WARIWCK, R.I. (WPRI) — Tensions ran high Wednesday evening as parents of students at Sherman Elementary were told their children would be learning remotely for the remainder of the month.
The change in plans comes as the Warwick school district works to mitigate a “widespread” mold issue inside the building.
The district plans to eventually move students to the Gorton administrative building to learn in person, but school leaders claim the temporary space won’t be ready until Oct. 1.
But parents argue virtual learning was a solution amid the pandemic and shouldn’t be utilized in other instances such as this one.
“I fear that distance learning will become a crutch our administration will lean on for future issues this school system may endure,” parent Ashley Denoncour said.
Superintendent Lynn Dambruch said the district did not realize the scope of the mold problem until last Friday. The district believes the mold became widespread due to multiple outside air vents being blocked off, likely in the 1980s.
The school needs a new HVAC system, which could take months to install and will cost the district millions of dollars. Dambruch said Sherman Elementary should be ready for students and staff by the start of the next school year.
But that’s a timeline many parents are struggling with.
“There’s a lot of frustration,” parent Ben Carlone said. “I think a lot of people want to blame school administrators, but these buildings are decades old and they’ve been neglected.”