MD

News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Advertise with us »

Unknown illness prompts school evacuation

BY JACQUELINE E. HOWARD
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 27, 2005

Saline High School's halls will once again be filled todayA- - one day after five students experienced dizziness and nausea and the school evacuated its 1,800 students.

Sarah Royce
An empty classroom in Saline High School in Saline, Mich. after school officials told students to evacuate. (AMY DRUMM/Daily)

More like this

All five students fell ill sometime between 10 a.m. and noon. In response, the Pittsfield Township Department of Public Safety recommended school administrators evacuate the school to prevent other students from falling ill. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the five students' illness.

On top of the nausea, one of the students also fainted in class, said Saline senior Anne Chu, who was in class when her classmate fell ill. The student has since regained consciousness.

At about 1:15 p.m. students and teachers were evacuated to the athletic fields surrounding the school, where parents of the students later arrived to pick them up.

"Any time multiple people in a general area fall ill, a red flag goes up," said Alan D'Agostino, Pittsfield's deputy director of fire services.

Four of the five sick students were sent to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital with their parents, and one was sent home, said Saline Area Schools Superintendent Sam Sinicropi.

After the evacuation, a Huron Valley Ambulance, the Pittsfield Township Fire Department and Washtenaw County's Hazardous Materials Response Team arrived on the scene but were unable to determine the cause of the students' illness.

Sinicropi said all the classrooms were well-ventilated and had their windows open, and none of the students had prior chronic conditions.

He added that it was unknown whether food was a factor because some of the students who fell ill had already eaten lunch, while others had not.

"No one knows the probable cause of the illnesses; that's why we have people investigating," he said.

D'Agostino said none of the responders detected toxic levels of any type of gas within the building.

All of the students that were sick were in science classrooms - including chemistry labs that may have contained potentially hazardous substances - when they fell ill, but Sinicropi said they were not in contact with any harmful material.

He added that because the anatomy and physiology laboratory class had a substitute teacher yesterday, the class was not conducting any experiments or working with hazardous materials. D'Agostino said he thinks the class was watching a movie.