Arlington

Illnesses at Arlington Nichols Junior High still puzzling

Several staff members of Nichols Junior High School in Arlington reported feeling ill on Sept. 22, prompting an evacuation and extensive air-quality testing. .
Several staff members of Nichols Junior High School in Arlington reported feeling ill on Sept. 22, prompting an evacuation and extensive air-quality testing. . Star-Telegram/Bruce Maxwell

A battery of tests has yet to expose a mysterious bug that caused some staff members of Nichols Junior High School to report feeling ill and prompting a brief evacuation on Sept. 22, Principal Julie Harcrow said in a letter posted on the school website.

An official described the ailments as “allergic reactions and asthmatic episodes.”

In the letter, Harcrow said some staff members have continued to express “similar concerns regarding air quality.”

“The district has conducted its own tests and walk-throughs of the building and worked with the Arlington Fire Department, two independent labs and the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct additional tests and review our procedures,” Harcrow said in the Nov. 4 letter to parents. “At this time, all of the tests conducted have revealed normal results and any issues found through visual inspections have been corrected.”

The letter did not explain what issues, if any, were found and corrected. But school district spokeswoman Leslie Johnston, in an email to the Star-Telegram, said no gas leaks were found.

Johnston said officials found no increases in absences or clinic visits since the illnesses were first reported, but the staff was asked to remove “non-essential personal items” from the school to help rule out potential causes of the allergy and asthma ailments.

“There have been instances in other districts in the past where outside items contained allergens and were causing health concerns,” Johnston said in the email.

In the letter, Harcrow said the district “will continue to study the air quality work diligently to identify and correct any possible conditions that may be causing the concerns reported by some Nichols staff members,” adding that the school building “will continue to be cleaned and disinfected according to district operations best practices.”

Robert Cadwallader: 817-390-7186, @Kaddmann_ST

  Comments