From Schools Superintendent Karen Gray, Tuesday, April 16th
Today at Crestview Heights Elementary School there were reports of an odor inside several classrooms again. The odors ranged from gas to diesel. As you know, we are working hard to try to find the source of the odor. 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.
The hospital called us and we spoke with them. We learned that at least 14 children had parents take them to the ER in Newport to have their blood levels tested for exposure to CO and that some had levels from slightly elevated to elevated between a level 2 and 3. The hospital would not venture where the exposure came from. I called my staff together and made the following decision:
Starting this afternoon, Tuesday, April 16th, we will not run our boilers at Crestview Heights Elementary School or Waldport Middle School/High School. This is necessary to help learn if the boilers are contributing to the odor and if they can be blamed for exposure to CO. They will remain off as part of our Process of Elimination as to what is going on here. They will remain off between 2 and 4 weeks in order to give us the right amount of time to know if there is indeed anything wrong with our boilers. At this time we believe they are working well.
Parents, this is very important: The temperature in the schools will be cooler than usual. Please dress your children in appropriate clothing to accommodate for lower temperatures. If your child has a need for warmer clothing, please notify the principal and we will provide it. Staff, the same is true for you.
If we do not shut the boilers off we will never know. If staff and kids still smell noxious odors it won’t be from the boilers. We are also in the process of pricing and strategizing if there is any possibility of moving to electric heat. We just don’t know yet. The water at the schools is electric. The kitchen is electric. Only the heating/ventilation system is run on the diesel boilers. Space heaters (we will follow our space heater protocol) will be made available as much as possible. Staff, please just ask for one.
Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, Superintendent