Dongola Students Head Back to School



Dongola Students Head Back to School
By: Kate Scott

Dongola students are once again going back to class, after first a mysterious rash, and then a report of dangerous mold shut down the school for most of January.

The Illinois Department of Labor is the latest agency to inspect the Dongola school building.  IDOL representatives met with parents there on Monday night to talk about what they found.

Industrial Hygienist Cheryl Neff told parents that the IDOL did find some mold, but not enough to keep the school from reopening.  Neff was part of the team that went through the building on Friday, not only looking for visible signs of mold, but also taking air and swab samples.  She assured parents that the team found absolutely no cause for concern. 

Neff also suggested that the school’s closed ventilation system, a mistake that has now been corrected, could be what started the health problems in the first place.  While that's exactly what some parents were hoping to hear, others still aren't satisfied with that answer.  “I am totally unsatisfied with what she said,” says parent Rhonda Baker.  “Basically she's saying it's not the mold, it's the air.  And I just don't think the air is going to cause all these kids to have the problems they're having.”  Neither does parent Bruce Lannom.  “I just want to find out what’s wrong with our daughter,” he says. “She’s still having headaches and she’s still having a hard time breathing.”

Dongola Superintendent Richard Reavis and Principal Jennifer Flowers say they have to believe that the state agencies are giving them good advice.  Both say they’re eager to get back to “normal.”  “We know that many of our students want to be back. And their parents want them to be back,” says Flowers.  “Those parents that are still uncomfortable, we'll support any decision they feel they have to make. We want every child and every parent to be comfortable about this school.”

Some parents whose kids are still sick say they will continue to keep them at home.

Meanwhile, administrators hope to decide soon how they're going to make up the seventeen days of school that students have already missed.