South Hadley High School

(Western Mass News photo)

SOUTH HADLEY, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- South Hadley High School students finally started their academic year Thursday, but from home. The high school is currently being cleaned, so that students can return safely, but administrators are up against the clock.

"Wait a minute. This is a great start, but is it enough?" said South Hadley High parent Lily Newman.

South Hadley High School students have missed out on two weeks of class time after mold was found inside their school, forcing its closure. Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education granted the school a temporary waiver. We obtained that waiver, which said South Hadley High School students can learn remotely for a total of five days. It also stated that the rest of the 175 days would have to be in-person classroom days.

Parents shared their concerns with Western Mass News, such as what happens if the building is not up to standards after those five days.

South Hadley Public School Supt. Jahmal Mosley said he is optimistic the school will be ready for students to return by next Thursday, but only if it’s safe to do so.

“We're not going to rush it and do a job that is not up to standard and really, it has nothing to do with how I feel. The testing is going to dictate whether we have kids back in that building or not,” Mosley noted.

Currently, the building is being thoroughly cleaned and tested by two outside companies.

“We have our ServiceMaster who's doing the cleaning and then we have our mold hygenist, ATC, that comes in to evaluate that cleaning,” Mosley explained.

Mosley said they will discuss other options on Monday in the case the school will be not ready and safe by next Thursday. Meanwhile, parents are ready to fight for their students' education. Newman started a petition that was sent to DESE, asking for remote days before they granted the waiver. She said parents are ready to keep adding their names if they need to start a petition for the extension of the remote learning.

“I'm just collecting folks names and if we can support with more advocacy, we'll do that and those folks will be on that list,” Newman said.

They worry that stopping and starting school will only harm the students education.

“If we're going to stop and start and stop and start, we're going to lose so much time in just reorientating kids to their class and even to the logistics,” Newman added.

Newman said some are even considering taking legal action since their students have a right to free public education.

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