Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Protecting Our Kids From The Unexpected

Somebody got careless with some pool cleaning chemicals at a California high school yesteday and there was a potentially deadly accident:
An accidental mixing of two chemicals used to clean swimming pools caused Monday's lockdown of two Sunnyvale schools, officials said today.

A worker making his first delivery of chemicals to the swimming pool complex near the King's Academy poured hydrochloric acid into the tank intended for chlorine, said Christine Mallery, the director of business and property services for the Fremont Union High School District, which owns the pool. The mixing caused a reaction that spread chemical fumes onto the school sites.

At least 50 students and adults at the King's Academy and the neighboring Rainbow Montessori School complained of headaches, sore throats and difficulty breathing after the odor was reported shortly after noon Monday, officials said. Four children and three adults were taken to the hospital as a precaution. All were released without suffering any serious effects.

Most Rainbow Montessori students were evacuated to the King's Academy auditorium, though the infants were kept at the school because their wing of the building was not affected, Sunnyvale spokesman John Pilger said. Students at the King's Academy stayed in their classrooms, and residents in a six-block area near the site were encouraged to stay indoors.

The King's Academy, which has 785 students in grades six through 12, and Rainbow Montessori, which has 600 infants through sixth graders, lease the site of the old Sunnyvale High School. The Fremont Union High School District maintains three pools there, which are used only during the summer, Mallery said.
Just about every public and private school practices fire drills. But does your local school have an actual plan in place for how to respond in the case of chemical accident or terrorist attack?

And if there is a plan, has your local school held a simulation or drill? Most times, these plans are soon forgotten and end-up sitting on book shelves in some school administrator's office gathering dust. Teachers and other support personnel are not trained how to respond to these hazardous situations. Complacency and EduCratic inertia are the rules of the day.

Until tragedy strikes. And then it is too late.
Entries to this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get details right here; see our latest posts over there.