VCU shuts down dorm with elevated mold levels, notifies students same day

Education

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University said they will be shutting down Johnson Hall, a freshman dorm, for the remainder of the academic year due to a mold issue. Students were notified on Tuesday that the building was immediately closing.

The 414 students living in the dorm will have to request alternative campus housing or move off campus. This change comes as the freshman residents are reaching the end of their first college semester.

The university brought in a contractor to do a full air quality assessment of the building.

VCU previously emailed students staying in the dorm on Oct. 27 to let them know that they had started to discover mold issues in certain rooms and had started to contact residents about next steps as needed. In the October email they explained that air quality testing was ongoing and they would continue working with students whose rooms had “unacceptable air quality levels.”

In the meantime, dehumidifiers were placed around the building.

According to VCU, the building has elevated mold levels that crews will need to be brought in to clean. Of the 228 spaces in the residence hall that have been inspected so far, 41 of them have an “elevated spore count of mold.”

VCU set up a frequently asked questions page explaining the shutdown and what options students have.

The FAQ page provided by VCU states that most students should not experience illness due to the mold, but are encouraged to seek medical help if they experience respiratory symptoms. Each student will be notified of the air quality in their specific room.

Moving forward the Johnson Hall residents can either request alternative housing on campus or cancel their housing contract. People who choose to only cancel for the fall semester will have their housing fees prorated and will receive a $250 incentive. Anyone who chooses to cancel their housing contract for the year will also receive a prorate and their incentive will be $500.

VCU is encouraging students with the ability to complete their classes virtually to finish their fall semester from home.

Students have until Friday at noon to submit a form with their housing decision.

A VCU spokesperson said, “While we recognize that Johnson Hall’s closure is a disruption to its residents, the health and safety of our students is our top concern. We are not aware of any confirmed reports of health issues related to mold problems in Johnson Hall though we encourage any student with a concern to contact Student Health or their primary care physician.”

8News has reached out to VCU for more information and is awaiting a response.

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