Deputy superintendent says budget ‘hindered’ ability to address Legionella bacteria at Chesterfield schools

Chesterfield County

Chesterfield County launches Legionella webpage

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield school leaders say all facilities have been re-tested and follow-up results were negative after the discovery of strains of Legionella bacteria at several county schools.

The bacteria was found in cooling towers at several Chesterfield schools. The bacteria, which can become airborne, can lead to Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia.

Chesterfield school’s Deputy Superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor said the school will need to be more vigilant in the future when asking for help, even if it comes with a price tag.

“Should we have tested anyway regardless of what our county risk management advised us to do?” Dr. Taylor asked. “Probably.”

Dr. Thomas Taylor

He adds that the school system needed to step up and be clear about what it needed in its budget.

“Our ability was hindered by the resources we had available to us,” Dr. Taylor said. “In the past several years we had worked in partnership with our county to present balanced budgets versus true needs based budgets.”

In recent weeks, 8News spoke with a Chesterfield teacher, on the condition of anonymity, who works at a school that tested positive for the bacteria. Just last month, 8News uncovered that the district was warned about poorly maintained HVAC systems multiple times.

8News reached out to the school board and school communications department for Chesterfield County for a response and received no answer.

Chesterfield schools has said in an effort to remain transparent with the public, the county will launch a legionella web page.

Officials add the website will include an educational video on cooling tower maintenance and cleaning, status reports tracking the cleaning, testing of cooling towers provided by the school system, and a timeline of the county’s response to legionella from July 14 to now.

The website will be accessible at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

You can find more information about Legionnaires’ disease here.

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