UMD Relocates Students After Mold Found Throughout Elkton Hall
Aggressive Remediation Plan Under Way to Clean Building
The university is temporarily moving all residents of Elkton Hall to nearby hotels and having their rooms and furniture cleaned after mold was found throughout the building.
The departments of Resident Life and Residential Facilities over the weekend outlined a remediation plan that calls for the more than 500 students to take a bag of personal items, a professional moving company to pack and store the rest of their belongings, and hired experts to clean all surfaces.
Starting yesterday, students were scheduled to move one floor at a time into the Cambria, College Park Marriott or Hotel at the University of Maryland, and the Department of Transportation Services was adding a dedicated Shuttle-UM route and adding hotel stops to some existing routes.
In one of several letters to residents, Resident Life and Residential Facilities asked students to prepare to spend up to a week in hotels. They stressed that students’ safety, health and well-being are of the utmost importance.
“Moving students temporarily to the hotels will allow our facilities staff and mold remediation specialists to work meticulously and expeditiously to inspect and clean empty rooms,” said Dennis Passarella-George, associate director of resident life. “We know this is frustrating and we are truly sorry for the inconvenience and concern this has created for students and families. We want our students to know that our staff are here to provide help and support.”
The university has also contracted with a consulting firm to help staff thoroughly inspect the building’s mechanical systems to ensure the HVAC system is operating properly to address moisture and humidity levels in the building.
Officials said mold initially reported in Elkton Hall, along with isolated instances in other residence halls, was exacerbated in recent days by significant rain and higher-than-average temperatures—eight to 10 inches of rain has been recorded in College Park in the past month, according to the National Weather Service. That increased humidity levels inside, producing conditions ripe for mold to flourish.
Residential Facilities initially handled service requests on a case-by-case basis, then began inspecting rooms on affected floors, including windows, walls, furniture, floors and air conditioning fan coils. Staff brought in extra dehumidifiers, began cleaning and replacing furniture as needed, and provided free linens and free use of washers and dryers. The Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk was also involved, providing visual inspections and guidance on federal agency policies for mold remediation. On Friday, Resident Life also hosted a meeting with students to answer their questions.
“We recognize and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and concern this has caused our residents and their families,” a joint letter later said. ‘We want to assure students we are working as quickly as possible to eradicate the problem.”
Exposure to mold can cause allergy-like symptoms in some people such as nasal stuffiness and eye and skin irritation; mold can also aggravate asthma. UMD officials encourage any residents concerned about a possible reaction to mold to consult with a doctor.
Elkton resident Shannon Cleary ’22 had gone to the health center, seeking treatment for cold-like symptoms. She first spotted the white fuzzy mold on her room’s window blinds, which staff replaced, but she and her roommate then found it under their drawers, desks and beds, and in both of their closets. Her sister, in town for Family Weekend, was helping her pack up her belongings. “It’s taking time away from my schoolwork, trying to deal with this mess.”
Ella Johnson ’22, who lives on Elkton’s eighth floor, moved last night to the Cambria, with a scheduled checkout on Friday.
“That seems like a really hopeful timeline there,” she said.
Once students finish putting their remaining items in bags and leave, a professional moving service will store remaining belongings, then return them after the floor has been cleaned and cleared for reentry.
In the meantime, mold remediation specialists contracted by the university will clean all surfaces of rooms, hallways and furniture.
DOTS is running a dedicated Shuttle-UM route approximately every 40 minutes from Elkton Hall to the three area hotels from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily to help students with moving items and to get to and from campus. Outside shuttle route hours, the UMD Nite Ride program has been adapted to service the three hotels.