WALDPORT, Ore. (KOIN) — Parents of 14 children took them to a Newport emergency room after an odor inside several Crestview Heights Elementary School classrooms, and some had elevated levels of carbon monoxide exposure.
In a letter to parents on the Lincoln County School District website, Superintendent Dr. Karen Gray said the Tuesday incidents began in the morning.
“Seven classrooms moved to the cafeteria while the fire chief and facilities managers checked the boilers and checked for CO levels. At around 10:30 the fire chief gave us the all clear and kids went back into their classrooms. Half an hour later 4 classrooms smelled something again and cleared the room to the cafeteria again. None of the CO monitors went off,” Gray wrote.
The school district said a diesel boiler misfired at Crestview Heights in January, sending smoke into the school. After that incident, carbon monoxide detectors were installed in each classroom as a precaution.
Susan Van Liew, the Lincoln County School District Student Support Services Director, said they called that January incident “a misfire.”
“There was smoke that went into the building. It was observed on a Saturday while we had some Junior League basketball going on,” Van Liew said.
Then 3 times in April — including Tuesday — students in the 5th and 6th grade wing reported a diesel or gas smell. Each time, district officials said, students were evacuated to a different area.
The fire chief and other agencies tested for carbon monoxide but haven’t detected any. During these incidents the recently installed detectors also stayed at zero, officials said.
District officials decided to cancel classes on Wednesday and to shut off the school boilers for 3 to 4 weeks to determine if they are the source of the smell.
Amanda Shelton said her 4th grader has been light-headed and having headaches. She said her daughter was tested Tuesday and came back with elevated levels of carbon monoxide.
“She’s been complaining of light-headedness for a good couple of weeks and headaches for the most part,” Sheldon said, but thought it was just dehydration.
“And then all this stuff started happening. … I just told myself enough is enough. I need to know.”
“It’s very worrisome,” Shelton told KOIN 6 News. “I believe the school is trying to do their best. But, I mean, I don’t want to send my kid back to school as a lab rat to if, like, the boilers turned off, now let’s see if everything is safe.”
The Shelton family is so worried they’ve started looking into private schools.
“All these people have gone in and deemed it’s OK to go back and the doctors saying, ‘Your kid can’t go back until it’s deemed safe,'” she sadi. “When is that? When is it safe?”
“We can find no CO residue in our buildings,” Van Liew said. “We are unsure. We know there is a problem, we care deeply about the fact there’s some sort of problem. We are trying very hard to figure out what the problem is, where is might be emanating from.”
District officials plan to re-open Crestview Height Elementary on Thursday.