As workers strive to remove mold and asbestos from the 38-year-old Hinsdale Middle School with the hopes of re-opening on Feb. 3, the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills School District 181 is also looking into a long-term locale in case students can't return to the school, according to the Chicago Tribune.
During a school board meeting on Monday, the board asked staff to look at National Louis University in Lisle as a possible location to continue classes, according to the article.
The Chicago Tribune reports the university could have 35 classrooms—some of which could hold 60 students —available by next week, and also would have a science lab, art room and three computer labs.
"…the Board directed the administration to further develop the option that would have HMS classes held at National Louis University in Lisle should the work be delayed enough to result in a considerable extension of the split schedule," according to a Jan. 28 message from Superintendent Renee Schuster, which can be read in above. "Administrators, our staff association leaders and building leaders have been collaborating to prepare for that contingency, should it be needed and approved."
The target date to reopen Hinsdale Middle School is currently Feb. 3. Duct work cleaning at Hinsdale Middle School was slated to start Tuesday, according to a Jan. 27 letter sent to parents from Superintendent Renee Schuster.
Hinsdale Middle School tentatively has an open house scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m.
"We will confirm the date and time no later than Friday and notify families and staff via email and a notice on the Facility Updates webpage," according to Schuster's letter.
- READ the full letter here
Clean-Up Continues at Hinsdale Middle School
The district believes it was extremely unlikely "that any students or staff would have been exposed to airborne asbestos, and the testing by Integrity Environmental Services shows no reason to be concerned about asbestos exposure," according to Schuster's Jan. 27 letter.
The district has an asbestos management plan, which requires comprehensive asbestos checks every three years, and a basic checklist is to be completed every six months, according to the Jan. 27 letter.
"The checks are completed by a third party service, and reports are kept on file with the Illinois Department of Public Health," Schuster wrote.
The District completed the three-year review for Hinsdale Middle School in November 2012 and was fully compliant. The six-month checklist was not completed in May 2013.
"We are concerned about the missed asbestos check and the failure to report any related concerns in a timely manner. This is being addressed by district staff," Schuster wrote in the letter.
The six-month check was slated to occur on Jan. 28.
Schuster's letter also details steps that have been taken to address the problem:
In the efforts to immediately address water damage at HMS, the first remediation company hired by the District worked throughout the affected areas of the building to soak up water and remove items that had been water damaged.
The first floor music room (Room 124) was among the more affected classrooms due to water coming in from the ceiling, as a pipe had burst in the science classroom directly above.
The risers in the music room were constructed with wood framing and plywood platforms covered by vinyl tiles. The risers were water damaged and therefore disassembled and removed from the room in sections by the remediation company on January 7 with the floor tile intact.
During this disassembly and removal, a small number of the tiles were broken. A concern was reported to the administration on January 21 that the tiles may have contained asbestos. It was confirmed to exist in very low percentages by reviewing the District’s asbestos management plan and by additional material sample testing.
Asbestos was once a commonly used building material; it was later found to cause serious health effects. Asbestos is harmful only if the fibers contained in the materials become airborne and typically after extended exposure or very high levels of exposure.
Fortunately, the manner in which the restoration company cleaned the music room because of water damage was very consistent with the work of an asbestos abatement contractor.
Water damaged materials were removed from the room and the building, then the company conducted cleaning, wet-wiping, and HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filter vacuuming before students and staff returned on January 8.
Following the report of possible asbestos to administration on January 21, and upon consultation with the Illinois Department of Public Health, Integrity Environmental Services conducted aggressive air sampling in Room 124, Room 126 and adjacent areas to determine if there were any asbestos fibers in the air.
Testing has confirmed zero (0) traces of asbestos fibers were found in the 13 TEM (Transmission Electron Microscopy) air samples.
It is believed any possible asbestos fiber release had been contained due to the wetness from the water damage, the small amount of asbestos in the materials (1%-2%), and the fact that the fibers are embedded in the material matrix, preventing them from being disturbed, even when a tile is cracked.
It is extremely unlikely that any students or staff would have been exposed to airborne asbestos, and the testing by Integrity Environmental Services shows no reason to be concerned about asbestos exposure.
The music room has been cleaned twice already by SERVPRO in addition to the initial contractor’s cleaning, and it will be cleaned again before the school is reopened. The risers will be replaced later this school year.
READ MORE ON THIS ISSUE
- A full report from Integrity Environmental Services is available for download on the HMS Facility Updates webpage.
- Read a Feb. 28 update from Schuster on Hinsdale Middle School above. The message includes a brief overview of progress at HMS and the key action and discussion related to HMS that took place during Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
- The school district updated its frequently asked questions webpage on Jan. 28 regarding the ongoing issues and clean-up at HMS.