KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The University of Tennessee announced Wednesday it will close Laurel Hall for the rest of the academic year to clean the building after mold was found in some rooms.
The building’s 586 residents will be relocated for the rest of the fall and spring semesters.
The university says preliminary air samples showed elevated levels of mold in several rooms and common areas. The university says it doesn’t believe there are major health or safety risks, but residents are advised to contact University Housing if they have chronic health conditions that may be worsened by exposure to mold.
University Housing will provide a moving timeline and other accommodation options to Laurel Hall residents. They are still lining up on- and off-campus housing options.
“I’m a little shocked, and also a little angry, I just hope they put me in something in pretty much the same location, I have a kitchen…” said Bruce Boles, a UT student.
Boles says he received an email Wednesday, learning from his roommate that they would be moving out from their current dorm. Boles says he lived in Laurel Hall for two years, noticing changes recently.
“It was kind of humid in there, sometimes my couch was a little damp,” said Boles.
UT reports they placed 42 dehumidifiers throughout the building to stabilize the environment and stop any mold from growing.
Some students, like Grace Avery, chose to move out within hours of receiving notice.
“We decided to move out tonight because it’s the first night of fall break, we knew it wasn’t going to be busy,” said Grace Avery.
Avery is a sophomore from Maryville, she says she’s planning to move home and commute until UT Housing can provide a more permanent solution.
The Executive Director of University Housing at UT, Chandra Myrick, sayid it’s crucial to find placement for student in “comparable” housing to that of Laurel Hall. She said she expects it will be off-campus housing based on availability.
Belfor Property Restoration, a certified microbial remediation company, will handle the cleanup project, which they said will take at least 14 weeks.
University Housing is still conducting air quality testing of all other campus residence halls.
Work began Monday to clean mold from South Carrick Hall. Each day, 12-14 students will be affected at a time and the process will take approximately 22 days to complete, with half of each floor being done each day.