October 25, 2013

Oak Street School dismisses early


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Oak Street School was evacuated Thursday morning due to a persistent electrical smell from a melted heater.

Plattsburgh City School District Superintendent Jake Short said that before school started, a maintenance person and teacher discovered that an electrical malfunction had melted a heating unit in a fourth-grade classroom.

Workers aired out that section and closed off the room, and the district planned to continue with classes as usual, as there was no fire danger.

But a strong, lingering electrical smell concerned them, Short said.

“It was not in every room, but it was in the halls,” he said.

After about an hour, administrators decided that because of people with asthma or others who might be bothered by the odor, it was best to close school early.

At about 10 a.m., staff started dialing up parents of all 200 or so kids at the school. The students were to stay in their classrooms until someone came to pick them up.

“It’s tough for parents (to have a dismissal) midday, but I think most would appreciate that we went on the side of precaution as opposed to sticking it out and having someone go home and have a headache,” Short said.

Though schools these days often use automated calls to notify families in situations like this, Short prefers the “personal touch” of having staff make calls. That way, they can ensure they actually reach someone and can answer questions.

The room was being cleaned and ventilated, and an air-quality check was to be performed later Thursday. Short expected school to be in session today as usual.

He was thankful the electrical malfunction didn’t lead to a bigger problem, such as a fire.

Email Lois Clermont