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Rockland Students Fighting School Odor Get Temporary Home

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Laurel Plains School Students (credit: CBS 2)

Laurel Plains School Students (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBS 2) — After weeks of crowding into a high school auditorium, some Rockland County elementary students finally started getting their own space on Monday.

They were forced to leave their school five weeks ago because of a mysterious and sickening odor.

Classrooms are a luxury Laurel Plains Elementary students no longer take for granted.

They were forced out of their school in September because of a sickening, sewage-like smell and had been crammed into a high school auditorium for weeks.

On Monday they finally got a new — temporary — home at the former Hillcrest Elementary School.

“Now they’ve got them in a more stable setting I think,” grandparent Dan Moscato said.

The unpleasant odor began wafting into classrooms just days into the school year and immediately began making students — and teachers — sick.

“Smelled like some kind of poop,” student Nancy Lee told CBS 2’s Lou Young back on Sept. 27.

“I had a very bad headache. You get a very metallic taste in your mouth,” Michelle Hughes told Young on Oct. 15.

In a battery of tests school officials have unearthed high levels of methane, butane and propane that could be to blame.

But they’re also considering other sources, like sewer problems, dead rodents, soil contamination and gas line complications.

Some parents said administrators took too long to address a serious problem.

“They’re just getting here so I feel a lot of time is lost and things should have happened a lot faster,” Hughes said.

But on Monday most parents seem to be pleased.

“It’s just a regular school. You know, it’s clean. They have it decorated. They have all their stuff from Laurel Plains,” parent Dawn Filgite said.

The problems surrounding the mysterious odor are still lingering and until school officials identify and eliminate it students will be at making do at this home — away from home.

“Every decision that’s been made going forward has been based on scientific evidence, so that will really be – they’re working on a re-entrance plan for Laurel Plains, getting the students back there,” said Maureen Sullivan, the assistant to the superintendant.

Students and teachers are expected to be here at Hillcrest for at least the next few weeks.

Hillcrest has been empty since June and school administrators say it has been fully cleaned and thoroughly tested.

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