Cheshire Officials Determine Source of CO That Made Students Sick

A Cheshire elementary school dismissed early Wednesday morning after several students that fell ill tested high for carbon monoxide.

School officials said they learned Tuesday that several students from Highland Elementary School fell ill on a field trip. Some students had elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their systems. Some also reported diarrhea, which is not a symptom of carbon monoxide exposure.

The Cheshire fire department, police department, Cheshire Public Schools and Cheshire's school transportation company Chesprocott all began working to find the source of the carbon monoxide.

The school building tested safe for occupancy with no carbon monoxide detected but as a precaution and to continue testing, the school dismissed students early Wednesday

Officials determined that a malfunctioning boiler was releasing carbon monoxide through a chimney, which was then drawn into the building through rooftop air handling units. The boiler was shut down so it can be repaired. School officials said the boiler undergoes regular routine maintenance and was last serviced in November 2015.

According to school officials, some of the students reported viral symptoms, so the school will also disinfect rooms those students were in to prevent the spread of any illness.

The students that fell ill had been on a field trip around the time the symptoms began. The Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Conn. confirmed that Highland students visited their facility and that there were no reported issues during the trip. They had no further comment.

“Every member of our team is confident that the situation has been fully remedied and that the school is now safe for occupancy. Therefore, Highland School will be in session tomorrow. Moreover, we have inspected the bus which transported students and are certain that neither thebus, nor the location of the trip had anything to do with this outbreak. We have sent students to The Institute for American Indian Studies on school trips many times and fully intend to continue to do so. This includes the field trip we have scheduled to return there tomorrow,” wrote Superintendent Jeff Solan in an email to parents.

Students were dismissed at 10:55 a.m. Students that parents could not pick up were taken to the Dodd Middle School so officials can continue to test the Highland Elementary building.

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