Parents refuse to send children back to school after gas leak scare
SOME parents are refusing to send their children back to a primary school at the centre of a carbon monoxide scare.
The Manor School in Coalpit Heath was evacuated yesterday after a total of 34 pupils were taken ill, including feeling faint, nauseous or having headaches.
One child was sent home after fainting and when a second fainted an ambulance was called.
Eight pupils were sent home and a further 26 were looked over by paramedics at the school.
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As the numbers taken ill rose, emergency services started to investigate the possibility of a chemical spill or carbon monoxide leak.
Police cordoned off the school in Roundways Road and children were taken out to a field nearby.
Last night head teacher Hilary Eade said rigorous checks had confirmed there were no problems with the school's boiler or gas supply and said the school would open as usual today.
A doctor called in to assess the situation said the sudden outbreak of illness was most likely to have been caused by a virus.
But some parents said they were not satisfied that the school was safe for their children to return and told the Post they would not be sending them in today.
As the youngsters were assessed yesterday afternoon, worried parents were directed to the nearby Miner's Social Club on Badminton Road.
By 5pm all pupils, including those taken ill, had been checked over by medics and allowed home.
Emergency medicine consultant Dr Phil Cowburn from the Bristol Royal Infirmary said he was satisfied after all investigations that no children were seriously ill or that any serious incident had occurred.
Dr Cowburn said he believed it was likely the sickness was as a result of a viral bug easily spread in schools.
"The children affected have been checked over and we are entirely happy that nothing serious is going on," he said.
Dr Cowburn said children had been tested for carbon monoxide levels and found they were "not significantly elevated". But he said he was unable to completely rule out the presence of carbon monoxide at the school because he was not an expert.
One parent asked him if he would send his child back to the school given the circumstances and he answered that he would.
But Amy Bennett, 27, and Shane Danter, 42, of Coalpit Heath, did not want their five-year-old daughter Shaya to go to school today.
Ms Bennett said: "She's not going to school, not without enough information. Who's to say she won't be ill when she's there? What if another 30-odd children are ill?
"It's not like they could be sure it was a stomach bug. It's not like they know what caused it.
"I won't be sending her to school until they are 100 per cent sure."
Mr Danter said: "I don't think it's right for the kids to go to school. That many kids don't just get sick for no reason and it hasn't been limited to one class."
Parent Catherine Fennell, who has two children at the school, said: "I am not terribly keen on sending my children back because we don't know for sure what happened. When so many children fall ill, and are not from one class, it makes you very nervous."
Another mum, who asked not to be named said: "I don't know what to think. We are all discussing whether our children should go back. I don't think we will be sending ours back because we have not been told categorically what happened."
Mrs Eade, above, said: "I know some parents were concerned about communication but we communicated with them the best we could given the circumstances.
"The fire officer has assured me there is no evidence of carbon monoxide in the building. We know parents were naturally concerned but the children and staff were amazing."
A spokesman for Avon Fire and Rescue Service, who deployed four fire engines and two chemical response unit vehicles, said they were contacted at 1.30pm and worked alongside police, ambulance, and South Gloucester- shire Council.
"The school was evacuated as a precaution while a multi- agency response was quickly put into operation," the spokesman said.
"A total of 34 children appeared to be displaying some minor symptoms. Eight were sent home, the remainder assessed by ambulance staff, and nobody was taken to hospital.
"Firefighters have conducted a search of the premises and found nothing to cause undue concern."
The school's website said it would be open as usual today.