New Jersey

NJ Elementary School Closes for Day After People Fall Ill 2 Days in a Row

One day after a New Jersey school was evacuated because two students fainted, the building was again cleared out as six staff members were sent home sick in the second hazmat scare in as many days.

Gantner Elementary School in Elmwood Park was closed Friday after two days of students, school staffers and even firefighters falling ill while in the building, according to schools Superintendent Anthony Grieco.

"Out of an abundance of caution and to be proactive, we will be closing school tomorrow to perform these additional tests, to ensure the safety of our students and staff," Grieco said.

No students fell ill on Thursday, but Greico said two of the six staffers who left the school with illnesses were transported to a hospital via ambulance. School was not in session at the time.

Hazardous materials crews also responded on Thursday and found no traces of carbon monoxide. 

On Wednesday afternoon, however, students were moved to another building after two children fainted in what authorities called a glycol leak. Glycol is an anti-freezing chemical commonly used in heating and air conditioning systems, and officials said the compound doesn't have any long-term hazardous effects.

In Wednesday's evacuation, a third student complained about being nauseous, and a custodian and a firefighter were also treated after falling ill. All those affected on Wednesday were released from the hospital on Wednesday night. 

Parent Marisa Priore, who lives down the street from the school, heard "siren after siren, ambulance after ambulance" head to the school that day.

"Something was not good and did not feel right in my stomach," she said. "That's way too many to be a small situation." 

"They had children lined up with oxygen tanks, all just getting oxygen," said another parent, Veronica McDowall, who took her 6-year-old son Kennedy to the hospital after he complained of a headache.

Officials initially said a handful of kids were taken to the hospital, but parents say the real number was around four dozen. 

It's not clear if Thursday's incident was also caused by a glycol leak. Priore had already chosen not to send her 5-year-old son Miles to school that day: "I was not going to send him until I knew there was some sort of clearance." 

The only thing parents have to go on is hospital records from Wednesday showing the children were exposed to carbon monoxide. As school remained closed Friday, officials insist they have enough carbon monoxide detectors and that the boilers checked out fine. 

But parents like McDowall seemed skeptical about sending their children back to school Monday without specific documentation showing the school is safe for their children to go back into. 

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