School remains closed as state continues probe

Published 6:59 am Friday, October 19, 2007

By Staff
Staff Reports
A Washington County elementary school remains closed as an investigation continues into what caused some students to become sick .
Some students at Pines Elementary School in Plymouth first experienced what appeared to be respiratory-related problems last week, resulting in the school closing for two days. Classes resumed Monday, but six students — coughing and exhibiting some symptoms of respiratory distress — were taken to Washington County Hospital later that day with coughing symptoms. The school, which has 900 students, was closed Tuesday and has remained closed.
The Public Health Regional Surveillance Team is investigating the situation to find its cause.
Previously, school officials said the problem appeared to be centered in one classroom or at least one hallway. There was speculation the situation could have been triggered when an air conditioner malfunctioned and staff opened windows for the first time in a long time.
Ronnie Herring, an industrial hygienist with the N.C. Public Health Department, was back at the school Thursday, according to Kathy Waters, a spokeswoman for the school system.
Investigators are slated to meet at 3 p.m. today to present reports and decide whether to reopen the school.
Walker has said the missed classroom time will have to be made up, but the school wouldn’t reopen until he is sure it is safe.