About 60 people showed up Monday at Hinsdale Middle School for an open house that offered a look around the building the night before classes were to resume.
HMS students missed school Jan. 17, 21 and 22 because of mold issues in the building. As cleanup work was being completed, students began a split day schedule Jan. 23 at Clarendon Hills Middle School.
The split day schedule, which wrapped up Monday, had CHMS students attend in the morning and HMS students in the afternoon.
Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Superintendent Renee Schuster said Monday that HMS 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.
Additionally, 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, Schuster said.
Most of those attending Monday’s open house were parents, though several students came along.
“I really wanted to see how it looks, and I’m glad to be back,” said Gillian Norton, an sixth-grader. “I felt sad not being here. It’s basically my home.”
Sixth-grader Julia Hanley, who came to the open house with her mother, Kathy Hanley, also was happy about returning to her school.
“I liked sleeping in, but I didn’t like not getting out until 4:30,” she said. “I think (HMS) looks better now.”
Additional work at HMS is scheduled for the near future, as more baseboards need to be replaced, and additional painting must be completed. That work will be done in the evenings and on weekends.
“I’m glad it’s getting back to normal,” Kathy Hanley said. “I think it’s important that people feel comfortable coming back in here. I’m not concerned about my daughter coming back now. I’m more concerned about long-term monitoring to make sure there’s no more mold in the future.”
Schuster said the district’s Facilities Committee would be considering a long-term plan for HMS, including a recommended new roof.
Mazin Abughazalah attended the open house with twin daughters, Carma and Reem, both sixth-graders.
“I wanted to make sure they’re comfortable coming back,” Abughazalah said. “I think it’s a good lesson for the kids in transparency, too.”
Both Carma and Reem said they were happy about returning.
“I’ve missed advisory the most because I haven’t seen a lot of my friends while we’ve been at CHMS,” Reem said.
HMS Principal Ruben Pena also said he was happy about returning to his own building, although the split days at CHMS worked out well.
“Our kids came in and went right to work there,” he said. “Overall, I think things went as well as could be expected.”