Multiple schools in the northwest suburbs were evacuated Wednesday morning after higher than normal levels of Legionella bacteria were detected in their cooling towers.
Police said bacteria was detected in an HVAC system during the district's annual air quality testing.
According to a message on District U-46's Facebook page, posted by CEO Tony Sanders, elevated levels of Legionella bacteria were found at Eastview Middle, Larkin High and at the Central Office and Gifford Street High School.
“We have all 19 of these types of cooling systems being sanitized right now," Sanders said. "The guidelines from OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) say if you have a level of 1-thousand parts per million or higher that you should take emergency action two of them came in above 1000 and Larkin came in at 940.”
“No students or staff have reported any illness that would be considered Legionnaires," Sanders added. "We wanted to err on the side of safety and close until we can sanitize those cooling systems."
The schools were being evacuated just before 11 a.m., according to police. All of the buildings were closed immediately.
“We got an announcement from our principal and he told us to evacuate the school because there was some environmental hazard but we were told what the hazard was,” said Larkin High School senior Sabbat Sattar.
Eastview Middle School students were being transported to Bartlett High until parents could pick them up. Gifford Street School and Central Schools program students were being moved to Elgin High School until they could be taken home. And Larkin students were dismissed from the school if they could walk home while others were being bussed home. Special needs students were also being transported home.
Central office staff members were asked to assist with students at Bartlett High or Elgin High.
Check back for details on this developing story.