Air tests continue at school for mercury |

Air tests continue at school for mercury

by Maggie O'Neill

A cleaning crew continued its work at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School on Monday, ripping up more carpet in areas at the school that have higher than desired amounts of liquid mercury vapor in the air.

Principal Robin Pedrett said some of the school will remain uncarpeted when students return Wednesday, the tentative target date for reopening.

“What’s currently happening is, they were pulling the carpeting yesterday and pulling carpeting again today and sealing the cement if the liquid vaporizier came back with a result (near) the standard.”

Officials scheduled a conference Monday evening for parents wanting more information at Carson Valley Middle School.

Pedrett said representatives from the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts, hazardous materials and the Nevada Department of Health planned to answer questions. Douglas County School District Superintendent John Soderman would also be available to answer questions, she said.

Students’ belongings have been screened. Those items deemed eligible for return to students have been given back, with just a few still needing to be picked up by parents.

“There are some kids that got nothing back,” Pedrett said. “Some kids got some things back. One or two kids got a lot of things back. We wanted to give it all back, of course. Most certainly, we’re giving (parents) their children back with their health.”

The health of the student who brought the quarter-cup of liquid mercury to school last Tuesday has checked out OK, she said.

“We’re happy to report that he’s not ill.”

The school district is continuing to seek information on where the student obtained the mercury. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office is examining the case.

In the meantime, Pedrett said the risk for short-term exposure is over, and that monitoring at the school will need to be for long-term effects.

Although Wednesday is the target date for reopening, Pedrett advised parents to double-check before sending their children to school. An updated message will be available on the school’s answering machine at (775) 265-6100, and radio station KGVM will provide updates.

The school’s marquee will also have information about the reopening.

A plan for rescheduling of exams will be made once the school is opened.

She said students will have “as many days (to study) prior to exams” as they had before the incident.

Contact Maggie O’Neill at mo’ or 782-5121, ext. 214.