Cleaning the air at Houston Secondary School

Houston Secondary School shut down two school wings for a week because of air quality concerns, tested and proven later to be unfounded.

Houston Secondary School shut down two school wings for a week because of air quality concerns, but reopened them this week after rigorous testing confirmed no air quality issues.

After several teachers and students reported symptoms which they felt were more prominent in certain wings of the school, two classrooms and eventually both the Science and Art wings were closed down as a precaution for air quality, said HSS Principal Scott Jackson.

The wings were closed for a week, with classes held all over the school, including in the school foyer, said Principal Jackson, adding that the flexibility of teachers, staff and students, and the quick response of the maintenance crew was really great.

The school was reopened on Nov. 6 after testing by Pacific Environmental, Worksafe B.C., Northern Health and district maintenance crews showed the air was clean of contaminates, Jackson said.

“We never got an explanation why people were feeling ill, but we’re 100 per cent certain it wasn’t an air quality issue,” he said.

Gordon Wedman, Senior Consultant for Pacific Environmental, did the testing and gave suggestions about things that might together cause an air quality issue, though none was found at HSS.

He suggested mouldy food in lockers, excess fragrance, odours from p-traps of rarely used sinks and from infrequently emptied recycle bins and partially blocked air vents might cause air quality concerns, said Andrew Bond, Vice Principal of HSS.

And maintenance and staff have since addressed all five things, and have cleaned and disinfected lockers, floors, desks and walls in both wings, and run air scrubbers through the wings to clean the air, said Ed Hildebrandt, Supervisor of Operations.

HSS is now a fragrance-free zone – no cologne, perfume or Axe  can be sprayed – just as an added precaution, said Principal Jackson.

Now the wings are reopened, students are back in their classrooms and there have been no further complaints, Principal Jackson said.

“It’s unique and it’s at this point idiopathic, meaning we’re maybe not ever going to know exactly what occurred,” he added.

 

Just Posted

Jill Mackenzie carefully replaces books on the shelves at the Houston Public Library. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
District approves annual library grant

Craft kits featured for summer reading club

The tradition of Houston Christian School grads giving Bibles to incoming kindergarten students will take place this year, but outdoors and in a modified fashion. (File photo)
Houston Christian School grad day is June 24

Grads themselves have set tone for the day, says teacher

Scott Richmond will be starting as the new vice principal for HSS and TSE. (Submitted/Houston Today)
Houston gets a new vice principal

Scott Richmond takes over from Dwayne Anderson who moved to Smithers

A Pacific Salmon Foundation grant of $3,000 is going towards the tree plantations. (Cindy Verbeek photo/Houston Today)
550 trees planted in Houston through A Rocha

Houston Christian School students and volunteers help with the tree planting

Currently the Houston station has 16 paramedics, two ambulances and one community paramedic vehicle. (File photo)
Retirement of longtime paramedics worries Houston community

“No loss of service,” assures BC Emergency Health Services

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read