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Hinsdale Middle School students glad to be back, building roof issues remain

Hinsdale Middle School eighth-graders Julia Sant (left) and Lily Jones get a drink from a vending machine Feb. 4. | Chuck Fieldman/Sun-Times media
A sign at the school store welcomes Hinsdale Middle School students, who returned Feb. 4 for the first time since Jan. 16 because of mold cleanup work being completed in the building. | Chuck Fieldman/Sun-Times Media
Hinsdale Middle School students returned to the building Feb. 4 for the first time since Dec. 16 beause of mold cleanup work being completed. | Chuck Fieldman/Sun-Times Media

Nineteen days after they last attended classes at Hinsdale Middle School, students, teachers and staff returned to their building Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be back,” said eighth-grader Julia Sant. “I know there were problems here with mold, but I think they did a good job cleaning it up.”

HMS students missed school Jan. 17, 21 and 22 because of mold issues in the building. As cleanup work was being completed, a split-day schedule began Jan. 23 at Clarendon Hills Middle School, with CHMS students starting at noon, and HMS students beginning classes at noon.

While glad to be back at her own school, eighth-grader Lily Jones said the most difficult part of returning was going back to a normal school-day schedule.

“It was hard to get up early; I haven’t been used to it,” she said.

Eighth-grader Charlie Kapp was OK with being back at HMS, but didn’t mind attending classes at CHMS.

“I kind of like it at CHMS,” he said. “It’s easier to get around there; they have straight hallways. I also liked sleeping in.”

Conor Donlevy, another eighth-grader, said he “got a little sick” from the mold at HMS, but is confident that it won’t continue to be a problem.

“I’m confident they took care of it,” he said.

Both Conor and Charlie said they were able to get as much work done during shortened days as they usually do.

Jane Fetty, an eighth-grade science teacher, said she was glad to be back in her own building.

“I’m really glad to be back on a regular schedule,” she said. “It was a challenge trying to teach with periods of only 30 minutes. We usually have 42-minute periods.”

Fetty said she was satisfied it was safe to return following the cleanup work, but hopes mold doesn’t again become an issue in the building.

“I’m comfortable things have been addressed in the short-term, but not for the long-term,” she said. “There are still issues in the building, like the roof.”

District 181 Superintendent Renee Schuster said the district’s Facilities Committee will discuss the longer-term future of HMS.

Schuster said the building had been cleared for students and staff to return following a fire inspection along with inspections by the Regional Office of Education and architects from Healy, Bender & Associates. Reports from Integrity Environmental Services on sampling of both air and surfaces conducted Jan. 31, Feb. 1, and Feb. 3 indicated the school is safe for occupancy, she said.

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