CROSBY -- School was closed in the Crosby-Ironton School District today after about 90 students and staff members experienced headaches and dizziness throughout the week.
Interim Superintendent Dale Wain suspects there is an air quality problem in the high school building. He said the problem could be associated with the air exchange system where some kind of chemical is coming in or out of the school. The problem also could stem from a faulty exhaust system, or something in the district's mechanical system could be releasing some kind of pollutant.
Wain said the people who experienced symptoms were in the high school central office area and adjoining classrooms. About five students and five staff members went to the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center on Wednesday for checkups.
Wain said students and staff members reported symptoms Monday, prompting the district to investigate the situation. The staff members took students outside when people began feeling symptoms and then they began to feel better, said Wain. The students also felt fine when they were at home, but when they returned to school the next day they began to feel dizzy and experienced more headaches.
MacNeil Environment, based in Coleraine, is conducting air tests and evaluating the air quality. The agency had been to the school twice conducting tests before the incident of people getting sick this week.
The Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning, the state health department and the medical center is advising the district on steps it can take to help alleviate the problem. So far, the district has evaluated all the mechanical systems and has conducted air quality testing. The district plans to clean the duct work in the building to see if it can find anything there.
"There was a school district that had air quality problems and they did an extensive search and found nothing specific. The school cleaned the duct work and it helped (the air quality)," said Wain. "Hopefully we'll discover things over the weekend."
Wain said the district will search for the core of the problem until it nails it down.
Students and staff members have today and Friday off so the district can work on the problem. If the school is not safe by Monday, students will be notified that they will not have school.
"We are anticipating that the problem will be solved by then," said Wain.
The students will not have to make up the school days, unless additional days are missed next week.
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