Paynesville schools closed Wednesday after illness scare

8:29 AM, Dec 19, 2012   |    comments
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PAYNESVILLE, MInn. - Paynesville High School and Middle School has been declared safe after 28 total students became ill both at a choir concert Monday night and again Tuesday morning.

Six students were taken by ambulance, another 13 by their parents, to Paynesville hospital or clinic after they complained of feeling dizzy and nauseous right after school started on Tuesday. 

That's after nine students fell ill at a choir concert last night. 

So school officials closed the school at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and had the Saint Cloud HAZMAT crew and the State Fire Marshal come in to investigate.  

It is believed exhaust brought in through a venting system caused a brief spike in carbon monoxide levels at the concert, because of the way the exhaust was blowing over the roof Monday night.

It is still unclear why kids got sick Tuesday. 

Nathan Schultz was one of two who fainted during the concert.

He said, "I was just singing then all of a sudden I was not singing anymore."  He continued, "I was just standing there and I tried getting down and I don't really remember what happened after that. I just blacked out."  He said his friend Mitchell Floura caught him.  He said he felt fine after going outside for a short bit.  He had only felt hot. 

A mother of one of Schultz's friends, Amy Syvertson said, "As a parent it's very scary.  We were at the concert last night.  We were in the second row and the kids were in front of us and they were kind of just dropping like flies and it was very scary."

Robert Huot, the Superintendent of Paynesville Area Schools said Tuesday afternoon, "After scanning this complete building they have found nothing, you know, and I don't have an answer for that other than right now, based on the info I have, I believe we have a safe building."

He continued saying that, "All the indications that were getting back from the doctors is that there's nothing they can find that's definitive. There's nothing as far as carbon monoxide there's nothing they can give us that is indicating there is any issue."

Paynesville Hospital took viral cultures from the students, at the request of the Minnesota Department of Health, to see if a virus is involved. 

Huot said school is cancelled for Paynesville Elementary and Secondary tomorrow, so custodians can clean. 

He said classes will resume on Thursday.

Families can go to the district website for more information.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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