Generator thought to be cause of air quality problem at elementary school

Eric McCarthy
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LENNOX ISLAND -- After missing three days of classes last week because of a brutal winter storm, students and staff at John J. Sark Elementary School on Lennox Island missed the final day and a half of the school week because of an air quality issue.

Chief Matilda Ramjattan

Chief Matilda Ramjattan said students and staff were sent home at noon last Thursday because of fumes in the school. Some students and staff were complaining of headaches, she reported.

Chief Ramjattan said a Bell Aliant generator, which was set up outside of the school to ensure the First Nation community had communication services during a power outage, was the likely cause of the air quality issue. She said it had been used previously without causing any problems.

“I’m really grateful to the vice-principal in charge,” Chief Ramjattan said, noting Barbara Smith made the decision to cancel classes in the absence of the community’s education director and the school’s principal.

The chief subsequently contacted parents to see how their children were doing and some extended their thanks to Smith.

One staff member who was checked out at hospital tested positive for carbon monoxide. Other staff and students also sought medical attention, but Chief Ramjattan does not think they were tested.

The school remained closed last Friday to allow time for Health Canada officials to conduct air quality tests in the building. No air quality concerns were evident at that time and classes resumed on Monday.

Organizations: Bell Aliant, Health Canada

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