By MORGAN MANNS
Fostoria City Schools has found a place to continuing educating about a third of the junior/senior high school student body after a fire displaced roughly 780 students and staff.
As of 1 p.m. Thursday, officials announced plans to get junior high students back in a school setting.
According to Superintendent Andrew Sprang, St. Wendelin Catholic School will temporarily host students in grades 7 and 8. The cleanup and classroom setup process has begun; however, he said he is not ready to provide further information — such as a start date or transportation details — until that process is further along.
“At this point in time, we are close to having a place for our ninth- through twelfth-grade students and are continuing to work to finalize the details,” he said. “I would like to thank everyone at St. Wendelin for their help and support through this transition. … As I mentioned last night, we continue to make progress every day.”
“We have the room and means to help and what a wonderful opportunity to open our doors and return the gesture, as they did when our school was hit by the tornado,” St. Wendelin Principal Teresa Kitchen wrote in an email to staff and parishioners.
While those plans are being finalized, the district also learned more about the cleanup process Thursday. Sprang said a team of 90 people would be arriving at the junior/senior high school to expand the cleaning efforts in the building. Beginning Saturday, the team from Cleaner & Dryer Restoration and Construction will be working 24-hour days until the work is completed, at which point an air quality test will be performed before students and staff can reoccupy the building.
Sprang said the cleaning crews will be cleaning everything from the floor up, including ductwork, as well as replacing ceiling tiles.
Staff members spent all of Thursday morning cleaning out lockers, placing all items from each locker into a box labeled with that student’s name and locker number. The boxes were sealed with instructions on how to take care of the items inside as well as the student’s report card.
Students or parents/guardians were able to pick up their boxes Thursday during one-hour increments between 1 and 4 p.m. assigned by grade level. Those who could not make the assigned time may pick up their boxes or their children’s boxes on the west side of the junior/senior high school by the gymnasium doors from 4-6 p.m. today. Officials stated all boxes must be picked up by 6 p.m. today or they would remain in the building throughout the cleaning process.
The blaze that closed the building was reported at 5:09 a.m. Tuesday and was found in the boiler room of the junior/senior high school. The fire was extinguished in less than 10 minutes; however, it caused a power outage, which affected the phone and internet systems district-wide.
Fostoria City Schools closed all of its buildings Tuesday but electricity was restored and the elementary students were able to return to school Wednesday.
Smoke that traveled through the ductwork at the junior/senior high school caused the building to be closed the remainder of the week. Officials are also working with Cleaner & Dryer Restoration and Construction on getting the air quality and the rooms up to a clean, safe standard for students and staff with a completion date of 6-8 weeks.
Officials were unable to provide any further information as details are still being finalized.
Sprang said he is unsure when another update will be available.
“We have not gotten some of the answers we were hoping for,” he said, reassuring officials are working to get those answers as quickly as possible.