Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Wing of NSHS evacuated after students noticed strange smell


Three students and a teacher from North Stafford High School were taken to the hospital Tuesday after fumes from a weed killer entered the school’s ventilation system.

Tuesday morning, students noticed a strange smell in one wing of the school, said Mark Doyle, spokesman for Stafford County Fire and Rescue.

A few students and teachers complained of headaches, nausea and dizziness. At 10:05 a.m., the fire and rescue department was called. Emergency workers determined that the smell came from a herbicide, which was sprayed outside of the school near the fresh air intakes for the heating system.

In total, 17 people were treated Tuesday and four went to the hospital, Doyle said.

The school closed one wing, and those classes met in the gym, said Valerie Cottongim, spokeswoman for Stafford County Public Schools.

Fire officials monitored the air quality and ventilated the wing, Doyle said. The fire department also consulted with the state coordinator for hazardous materials.

At 12:45 p.m., students returned to their regular classrooms. No one was seriously injured, Cottongim said.