CHAPEL HILL –  Mold was found in Chapel Hill High School’s media center Thursday, according to district officials. The school’s nurse reported that several students and staff expressed complaints of a soar throat and stuffy nose, though it is unclear at this time if the symptoms are connected to the mold.

Todd LoFrese, Assistant Superintendent for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said that the mold was found in the spines of leather-bound books.  LoFrese said students were in the library Friday, but weren’t handling the books.

“When we evaluated and saw that it was in multiple books in the Media Center, we wanted to take appropriate safety and precautionary measures,” LoFrese said. “We didn’t want students handling books and making the problem worse.”

The Media Center, LoFrese explained, will be shut down for a week in order to clean the books, shelves and other areas.

“I don’t know the particular type of species that it [the mold] is,” LoFrese said. “It is being evaluated by the professional contractors, so they are going to be determining the appropriate clean-up method.”

Doors and vents to the media center will be sealed in plastic and an air de-containment system will be used to filter the air, according to a CHCCS statement released Friday. Work will be performed during non-school hours.

An Orange County health official will visit the school next week to observe the cleaning process, and work will aslo be monitored by an industrial hygienist.

This summer’s wet weather and flooding has led to the development of moisture issues and mold growth in different areas of the high school. Prior to the start of school, the district hired professional remediation contractors to clean rooms that had experienced mold growth.

“Indoor air quality issues, moisture issues, and the need to maintain our HVAC system, and to upgrade and do some renovation in areas has been identified in our facility study of our older schools,” LoFrese said.

He added that mold and moisture issues will be addressed at the September 17 Board of Education meeting.