In-person learning resumed Tuesday after a fire caused $250,000 in damage to critical infrastructure at Highland Park High School last week.
Township High School District 113 Superintendent Bruce Law sent an email to parents and students on Friday alerting them to the situation.
Law said the fire occurred early Friday morning at Highland Park High School, located at 433 Vine Avenue. In-person instruction was moved to remote learning for Friday and Monday.
No one was injured and investigators believe the fire was likely caused by a lithium battery pack.
The Chicago Tribune reported the fire caused $250,000 in damage and nearly 30 firefighters responded to the incident upon receiving a fire alarm activation call.
“While the fire itself was contained to a closet, smoke filled the hallways throughout the school, and debris and heat from the fire affected adjacent spaces that house critical IT and operational infrastructure,” Law said.
Critical IT infrastructure, such as telephones, WiFi, the smoke and fire detection system and the public address system, was “severely damaged” by the heat and soot of the fire.
Law said on Monday that the fire detection system components destroyed by the blaze had been replaced and the fire detection system is 100% operational following multiple tests.
Critical IT infrastructure, including telephones, WiFi and the public address system, was “severely damaged” by the heat and soot of the fire.
Due to supply chain disruptions from the pandemic, it will take between 9-12 weeks for replacement equipment to arrive, Law said.
The IT Department “worked tirelessly” over the weekend to construct a temporary solution until the new equipment arrives. “Until it does, the potential for technology disruption is high,” Law said.
Air quality tests were also conducted to ensure the air was safe for students and staff.
“Based on visual inspections and air sampling measurements collected by two independent industrial hygienists, the areas that will be occupied on Tuesday were found to be clean and acceptable,” Law said.
All measurements collected for both carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds were within regulatory requirements and recommended limits.
Certain areas of Highland Park High School will remain temporarily closed for additional mitigation and cleaning.
The library and associated offices will be closed to all students and staff until at least September 8 so that the ductwork can be cleaned and the air handler serviced.
Finishes such as ceiling tiles and carpeting were are cleaned or replaced.
The school district announced on Monday that in-person would resume Tuesday. “We all owe a debt of gratitude to IT, our buildings and grounds staff, security staff, and building and District administrators who have worked since 5 a.m. Friday to reopen school,” Law said.