The UMBC child care facility, operated by the Y of Central Maryland, shuttered Wednesday night because of a mold problem caused by water leaking between walls, officials said, leaving dozens of families without child care.
"We arrived at the decision to close with the safety of the children in mind, and we are very sorry for the impact it will have on the families affected," Lynne Schaefer, vice president for finance and administration, said in an email to the university community Thursday.
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Facilities workers discovered the damage over the weekend and immediately ordered air quality tests.
"While the test results indicate mold levels below the threshold that would require immediate action, the campus and the Y of Central Maryland determined that no risk is acceptable where children are involved and closed the facility Wednesday evening," Schaefer's message states.
A thorough assessment of the damage is underway, but "the damage is significant and repairs may not be a viable option at this time," Schaefer wrote.
A campus spokeswoman said that the building was only used for the child care center. About two dozen UMBC affiliates had children placed at the center, which was open to the public.
Mold has also been discovered recently at the University of Maryland College Park, on the fifth floor of McKeldin Library. The floor was closed earlier this month "until further notice to contain and address a mold outbreak," states a message to staff from Librarian Maggie Z. Saponaro.
"Mold weakens the paper and binding of books and therefore contributes to their deterioration," Saponaro wrote in the Sept. 10 message. "Mold is generally not harmful to people, but those with known allergies or sensitivities should stay away."
Spokesman Eric Bartheld said the floor, which contains mostly book stacks and some areas for quiet study, has been closed since mid-August and will likely reopen after cleaning concludes in November.
The school also performed air quality readings and decided to close the floor, like UMBC, "out of an abundance of caution," Bartheld said.
"We don't consider it a threat," Bartheld said. "We just want to take care of the books."