Two schools in the Southern U.S. are struggling to save face after reports of mold and unsanitary conditions garnered national attention.
Photos of the conditions in Sunset Senior High School in Southwest Miami-Dade, FL were bad enough to go viral, attracting the concern of thousands of social media users and even Buzzfeed, which ran a story with the photos called “Horrifying Health Hazards at Miami Sunset Senior High.”
It’s no wonder the photos went viral. One shows a milk carton with a dead roach on it. Another shows the school’s water, which is cloudy and yellow rather than clear and colorless.
Perhaps the most concerning photo shows a container of something that was supposedly fruit punch before green mold took over. According to students, the moldy juice was served when they returned from winter break.
The Miami-Dade County Schools regional superintendent Barbara Mendizabal said that school was not properly cleaned before winter break, and that the break only served to exacerbate existing conditions. This is in line with what many students and parents have claimed: that the school’s sanitation issues have been around much longer than the viral photos.
Mendizabal told reporters that she couldn’t authenticate the pictures, but the moldy juice incident did occur. When a student complained, Mendizabal said the juice was quickly thrown out.
Officials are struggling to address the numerous other concerns raised by the photos, insisting that the heath department didn’t uncover a roach problem and that the drinking water passes safety tests. They’re banking on $6 million in funding to improve the nearly 40-year-old school.
A state over in Alabama, another school is raising the concerns of local parents, to the point that a community meeting was called to address the issue.
Parents at Union Hill School gathered to voice concerns after mold was found in three classrooms shortly after Christmas. Several parents have complained about children getting sick, though it’s nearly impossible to tell if the students are suffering from mold or just seasonal allergies.
At the meeting, the mold inspector who surveyed the school said officials did everything his company recommended to eradicate the mold. He also said the problem was isolated and wouldn’t have a significant impact on the building’s air quality.
Superintendent Bill Hopkins told parents that students in the affected classrooms have been relocated and that the building will be continually tested until the problem is resolved.