Strange stench disturbs classes
COAL TOWNSHIP - A suspicious odor displaced all students and faculty in two entire wings of Shamokin Area School District's main elementary building on Tuesday.
Superintendent James Zack said there were no reports of anyone becoming ill from the unidentified smell.
The fifth-grade and sixth-grade wings will remain closed at least until testing is completed by an environmental consulting firm.
"It makes no sense to put the kids back in there until the testing is complete," Zack said.
JMSI Environmental Corp., Swoyersville, is expected to be at the school by noon today. The firm will collect air samples, floor samples and more for testing.
Teachers reported having smelled the odor in the past, Zack said.
The smell was first reported Tuesday to the superintendent about 10:30 a.m. He and Dave Petrovich, supervisor of buildings and grounds, responded but the smell was gone. They checked the inside and outside of the two wings, including the air conditioning units on the building's roof, but couldn't come up with a cause.
Sixth-grade students and faculty were relocated to the elementary gymnasium, while fifth grade were dispersed to vacant classrooms. Zack estimated at least 350 people were relocated.
The building was closed from Friday through Monday for the Easter holiday.
An automated phone call was placed Tuesday to district parents to notify them of the incident. There was an error in the message: that there was a higher than usual amount of students reporting to the school nurse. That was a mistake, Zack said, stressing that there was not an uptick in visits to the nurse's office and there were no reports of students complaining of symptoms attributed to the unidentified odor.