Johnson C. Smith University delays spring semester as it addresses mold problem

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After weeks of demanding answers, FOX 46 is getting results for students at Johnson C. Smith University, who complain an ongoing mold problem is making them sick. 

FOX 46 first reported mold problems at JCSU and, after bringing students directly to school officials to express their concern, the university announced it would inspect all dorm rooms. As a result of that inspection, JCSU apologized to students and announced it is delaying the start of classes until Jan. 22. That is being done in order to finish an “aggressive remediation and overall cleaning program,” according to a letter sent to students by JCSU president Clarence Armbrister. 

It is unclear what methods are being used to remove the mold. Armrbister said the process involves a “deep cleaning” that will address “any existing water damage that can lead to such issues.”

“We want to reiterate that no student will be assigned to a room where mold has been identified and has not been remediated,” Armbrister wrote. “If any work remains to be done upon students’ return, we will assist in relocating affected students to alternate housing.”

University officials say they will work with impacted students by rearranging schedules and offering online classes. 

On Nov. 30, FOX 46 brought students who complained of swelling eyes, fatigue, coughing and trouble breathing directly to university officials to voice their concerns. When Matt Grant, reporter for FOX 46, asked Director of University Communications Sherri Belfield what she would say to students who are “dealing with this mold issue” she responded by aggressively hitting a camera. 

At the time, Vice President of Institutional Advancement Tami Simmons told FOX 46 “we are not dealing with the ongoing mold issue. We are handling the welfare of our students case-by-case.” However, after our story aired, the university announced it was, in fact, going to deal with the mold issue.

Officials previously blamed its mold problem on the weather. However, this isn’t the first time JCSU has been plagued by mold. Last year, mailroom employees sued in federal court, alleging they became ill after being exposed to it at work.

Classes were supposed to start Jan. 18. 

“Nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” Armbrister wrote. “We apologize for the inconvenience our delayed opening will cause but want to ensure our work is comprehensive and thorough.”

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