Strange smell plaguing Nicholas County elementary school concerns parents

Local News

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (WOWK) — Parents at Summersville Elementary School are frustrated because of a strange smell in the school. Nicholas County Superintendent, Dr. Donna Burge-Tetrick, and other school officials met with concerned parents at the elementary school Monday afternoon.

Since the start of the school year, the elementary school has been closed twice to investigate the smell. According to the Superintendent, the smell is believed to have come from a different source each time.

“We just want to know what’s causing it and we want to see proof that it’s not something that’s going to hurt our kids in any way or the adults, even the teachers,” said one concerned parent, Reanna Brown. “We just want to make sure that everybody is okay and that whatever’s causing the odor, we just want to get it fixed.” 

The most recent complaint is believed to be caused by poor ventilation, in addition to leaks and poor water drainage from certain parts of the ceiling.

“We’ve exhausted every effort to make repairs of the school and try to figure out what this smell is,” said Dr. Burge-Tetrick. “This most recent time, we asked the state department of facilities to come in and do a walk through with us to try and figure it out.”

According to Dr. Burge-Tetrick, officials from the West Virginia Department of Education provided recommendations to fix the smell. However, they did not require any changes to be made. Dr. Burge-Tetrick said they also determined the smell to be harmless to students and teachers at this time.

According to a Facebook page made by the Nicholas County Board of Education, the WVDE has made 3 recommendations, which maintenance staff have already begun to work on:

  • Reseal the roof or cover it with a shed style roof in order to prevent further roof leaks
  • Reconfigure downspouts to direct runoff away from the building’s foundation.
  • Keep windows slightly cracked through the day when possible to aid in ventilation.

“Even though the smell is harmless, I don’t want anyone to have to sit through that,” Dr. Burge-Tetrick said. “It’s only been one classroom to my knowledge with the latest repairs, and that classroom has been moved, and it’s a small section here in the hallway here at the corner of the gym.”

But at the meeting, parents and many teachers said they believe the smell to be spreading. The superintendent is looking to create a committee of concerned parents. She said she will also be providing frequent updates to parents through social media and other ways.

Parents were also offered the option to transfer their children to other area elementary schools. Other principals from area elementary schools were present at the meeting.

“We are trying to be as transparent as possible, we understand that this is not ideal and that this is frustrating. We want to figure it out as well,” explained Burge-Tetrick.

In the meantime, Summersville Elementary School will be closed on Tuesday, November 19 to conduct additional tests.

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