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Gold River elementary school closed for two days for health reasons

Staff and students at Ray Watkins Elementary reported itchiness, redness and welts on Wednesday
Ray Watkins Elementary School in Gold River has been closed for two days after some staff and students reported itchiness, redness and welts. Photo courtesy Vancouver Island West School District

Ray Watkins Elementary School in Gold River is closed for the second day in a row after staff and students reported itchiness, redness and welts.

On Jan. 17, some staff and students reported skin issues. Parents of the students were informed and asked to pick up their students, and the school was closed for the rest of the day to investigate.

The Gold River Health Clinic advised staff and students to shower or bathe after they got home, to change into clean clothes. The clothes worn in the school should be washed, and any surfaces in bedrooms were to be cleaned. They also recommended people get checked at the clinic after ensuring their clothes were clean.

The school’s website said on Wednesday that they “will be following the direction of Public Health and the recommendations of an environmental assessment that will occur (in the) afternoon.”

On Thursday, Island Health informed the school district that they did not “feel there was a significant health risk,” but the district was advised to keep the school closed for another day until the cause was discovered.

“Thank you all for your patience as we work to get to the bottom of this,” the district website says.

“We are waiting on the results of the environmental assessment,” said SD84 superintendent Lawrence Tarasoff. “We’ve done a thorough cleaning, made sure all the ventilation’s working and that’s where we’re at right now.”

Tarasoff also said that five students and three staff had a rash on Tuesday, and they decided to close the school “out of an abundance of caution.”

There are just over 100 students who attend Ray Watkins elementary, and 10.6 full time equivalent teachers are on staff, as well as other support staff.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Tarasoff was not sure whether the school would be open on Thursday. However, there will be updates posted to the school website.

The Mirror has reached out to Island Health for comment.

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Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Campbell River Mirror in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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