SCCPSS responds to frustration at notification of Myers Middle incident

Parents concerned with notification of evacuation at Myers Middle

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Classes are set to resume Thursday at Myers Middle School in Savannah.

The announcement coming after a Freon gas leak prompted an evacuation Wednesday, and sent more than 30 people to the hospital.

There was some question early Wednesday afternoon as to whether the school would be open Thursday morning. Understandably, some parents were concerned, but the school board said late Wednesday night that the building is safe and no Freon had been detected.

But earlier Wednesday, parents worried when they started getting phone calls from their students.

"Saying that kids were falling out, and throwing up, and dizzy and everything, and that they were evacuating the school," said Jean Baker, grandson goes to Myers Middle.

34 students and three adults got sick, some were taken to the hospital by ambulance.

The fire department found a leak in the A/C system.

"The equipment did detect a level of Freon in a couple of areas in the school," said Mark Keller, Savannah Fire.

Students and teachers were evacuated from Myers Middle and sent to Johnson High School, about a mile away. But some parents were frustrated the first time they heard about the situation was from their own kids.

"But it was just, the whole thing was a cluster," said Baker.

The school did eventually notify parents 90 minutes after evacuations began.

"The first priority was to get the students out safely and make sure all the students were accounted for and safely outside the school and had a location for them to go to with faculty and staff. At that point they needed to assess and have all the information available to be able to call out parents and tell them this is what's happening and this is where you can find your students," said Sheila Parker, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System.

The message said that the school was being evacuated, but it didn't specify why.

Parker says it's something the school system could consider.

"But at that point, do you risk creating a panic with parents rushing over here? They would rather, in most cases, have has much information as possible and have the students safely evacuated from the building before they put out something that's going to cause people to worry, and in most cases, unnecessarily," said Parker.

It's worth pointing out that the school system was working on a pretty tight timeline. Students started complaining about being sick around 1 p.m.

The fire department was called at 1:30 p.m. and evacuations started shortly after that. Once the school was secure and the kids were safe, the first alert to parents went out.

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