Dunsmore Elementary teachers sickened by fumes remain on medical leave

Two Dunsmore Elementary School teachers sickened last month by chemical fumes that permeated their classrooms will likely remain on medical leave for another couple of weeks, district officials said.

Kindergarten teacher Karen Nagao and kindergarten-first grade teacher Debbie Kramer left work on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, respectively, and have since undergone a battery of medical examinations.

“We are improving, but not ready to be back at work yet,” Kramer said in an email Friday. “There have been many appointments with specialists and we are waiting for all the results, and another check with the pulmonologist in two weeks.”

The incident started on Sept. 20 when Dunsmore staff detected a foul odor on campus and asked maintenance workers to investigate. They determined the smell was that of a rotting animal burrowed in a hole under a set of cement stairs.

Unable to access to the carcass, the maintenance staff poured an industrial strength cleaning solution down the hole. Overnight on Sept. 21, fumes from the chemical rose through the floor boards and into the kindergarten and kindergarten-first grade classrooms.

When Nagao and Kramer arrived at work the morning of Sept. 22, they were exposed to a heavy dose of the fumes, seriously irritating their eyes, throat and sinuses, officials reported.

Students were kept from entering the rooms, and temporarily relocated to alternative classes according to grade level.

-- Megan O'Neil, Times Community News

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