HOUSTON -- Willowridge High School students and staff members will begin the 2017-18 school year at Marshall High School , as the cleanup efforts to remove mold from the campus buildings have taken longer than expected.
Fort Bend ISD district leaders weighed several options as they considered an alternate location for the start of the year, working to ensure the best possible learning environment for students and staff members.
“Our top priority is to provide a safe, supportive, and positive learning environment for each student from the very first day of school,” said FBISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Dupre. “The WHS administrative team worked with us to weigh several options and selected Marshall High School based on its proximity, capacity and the positive relationships that already exist among students and staff. I am especially pleased by the way both the Marshall and Willowridge communities have joined together to provide a solution that is in the best interest of ALL students in both communities.”
School officials said mold was discovered earlier this summer during scheduled construction work on campus.
"We're disappointed we're not going to be able to start school at Willowridge High School. But from the beginning, we've said that we are not going to open that school until it is safe, sanitized and ready for the students and staff," said Fort Bend ISD spokesperson Amanda Bubela.
Less than three weeks away from the first day of classes and students are still waiting to hear where they'll go to school in the meantime.
Bubela said the school district is working to find an alternative location.
For students like Juan Carlos Vital, going to a different school his senior year, just wasn't part of the plan.
"I'm frustrated because I didn't expect this. Think about it like this, I've been here for four years. My brother and my sister both went there. It's going to be weird going to another school where I don't know any of the people or anything," Vital said.
Other students who currently walk to Willowridge said finding a ride to a school farther away might be problematic.
"I'd either have to take the bus or my mother would have to drive me. Some of my friends might have a harder time, not all of them have money to pay for gas or can drive, and some of their parents are already working in the morning," sophomore Cesar Pineda said.
At this point, school officials said there's no timeline on when the cleanup efforts to remove the mold will be finished.
"It's pretty widespread. I would say majority the building has been impacted by the mold in some way. And the remediation, that's an extensive effort. They're going to be replacing all of the flooring, they're sanitizing surfaces, they're going to be replacing items that were located inside classrooms, furniture and ceiling tiles," Bubela said.
More details will be announced within the next week. Until then, school officials are asking parents and students to be patient.
Bubela said the cleanup efforts to get rid of the mold has cost approximately $2 million so far.
The district is planning a community forum and celebration on August 16 at Marshall High School to discuss the district's efforts to support students and staff in both communities.
Classes for Fort Bend ISD begin Aug. 22.