Authorities determine cause of carbon monoxide exposure at Chesh - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Authorities determine cause of carbon monoxide exposure at Cheshire school

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The Highland Elementary School was dismissed early on Wednesday morning. (WFSB) The Highland Elementary School was dismissed early on Wednesday morning. (WFSB)

The administration determined the cause of carbon monoxide exposure that sickened students and led to the early dismissal of an elementary school in Cheshire on Wednesday morning. 

According to Cheshire Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Solan, several students from Highland Elementary School complained of nausea and other symptoms that were consistent with carbon monoxide exposure during a field trip to the American Indian Studies in Washington on Tuesday.  Several kids sick, but Solan would not pinpoint a number.

It was determined that some of the students had "had elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their system," Solan said. Some of the students also suffered from diarrhea, which was not associated with carbon monoxide exposure, Solan said.

The administration had Highland Elementary School inspected before the start of classes on Wednesday. Solan said the building was "safe" and no carbon monoxide was detected by crews. 

Since authorities were unable to confirm the source of carbon monoxide exposure at Highland Elementary School on Wednesday morning, the students were

"We enacted an emergency early dismissal in an abundance of caution and to allow our team to take all  necessary measures  including running tests, which were not possible  with the building occupied.

The Cheshire fire department, police department, Chesprocott, Cheshire Public Schools transportation along with school maintenance staff determined that there was something wrong with the air handling unit.

There was a malfunctioning boiler that was releasing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. The air handling units, also on the roof were sucking that bad air back into the school. The boiler was last serviced less than a year ago in November of 2015. 

They deactivated that boiler unit and will repair it immediately, Solan said.   

The buses weren't the problem, Solan said. The Institute for American Indian Studies wasn't the problem, either, Solan added. In fact, another field trip will go back to the Institute for American Indian Studies on Thursday.  

Students were dismissed at 10:50 a.m. All parent conferences on Wednesday afternoon were postponed due to the early dismissal. 

"This dismissal will ensure that there is no risk of exposure and for us to conduct further testing which can't be executed with students in the building," Solan said. 

Parents were calling neighbors to help out in a pinch. 

"Neighbors who had elementary school children wanted to see if I could make sure their kids got off the bus safely, so we did and got everyone accounted for," parent Jamie Ferguson, of Cheshire, said.

Classes will resume at Highland Elementary School on Thursday.  

"The people, who work in the district, all of the teachers and everyone, all have the students safety as their priority, so I'm sure they did everything they needed to do to keep them safe," Ferguson said. 

Sources said it was all rooms contained to one specific area of the building. They will be cleaning the rooms where kids were feeling sick, Solan said.  

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