CAMBRIDGE, Ill. — Although some teachers had less than a day to prepare their rooms, Cambridge Elementary School began the academic year as scheduled Tuesday after conquering a serious mold problem.
“It’s wonderful,” Principal Shelly Logston said.
The school received the go-ahead to have classes at about 7 a.m. Monday, just over 24 hours before classes were set to begin. “You walk into the building and it’s cool and it smells nice,” she said.
Workers installing a geothermal heating and cooling system in the school discovered the mold problem last month. District officials had noticed the school’s roof had been leaking last fall, but could not find any contractors to repair it over the winter. The roof now has been repaired.
Moisture settled in the space between the drop ceiling and the roof, and mold formed during the sweltering temperatures. The district had the mold tested, and it came back as stachybotrys mold, also known as black mold, a particularly toxic form of the substance.
The district awarded a contract to Envirotech of St. Louis to get rid of the mold. Crews worked 24 hours a day, six days a week to clean up the mess.
Air samples had to come back clean in order for classes to be held. The latest samples went out Aug. 13, and Logston said she waited at the fax machine for almost five hours Saturday hoping to find out the results. Finally, on Monday, she got the all clear.
Two rooms for first-grade classes had to be put together in a hurry. The other rooms in the school had been declared safe earlier in the week. Members of the community came in Saturday to help teachers move everything back into those rooms.
“Monday we all worked fast and furious,” Logston said.
Christi Reed, a first-grade teacher, said she began to work on her room about 1 p.m. Monday and didn’t have it ready for her class until almost midnight.
“It wasn’t so bad,” Reed said Tuesday. “Today we’re having a great first day of school.”