NORTHPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Parents are praying for no confusion or chaos Thursday morning when a suburban school closes for the rest of the year.
Prompted by the discovery of chemicals outside their school, hundreds of students and their teachers are being moved to new buildings, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.
Northport Middle School will close and all 660 students will be bused elsewhere.
“There is a huge element of relief, but I think for a lot of us, there’s not a lot of winners here,” Parent Bill Blaney said.
Blaney said the school district was at the center of health concerns for years. Students, teachers, parents and staff complained about odors, respiratory problems, and skin rashes.
“My daughter was sick from the day she started in the school. She had headaches and stomachaches and frequent dizziness,” Blaney said.
Prompted by results of environmental testing, the middle school will be shuttered for the remainder of the year to mitigate or remove potentially dangerous chemical compounds in septic tanks and a cesspool outside the building.
Parents are urging the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agency to get involved.
“It is quite scary. It’s kind of worse than we thought and we don’t know what’s yet to come,” parent Denise Schwartz said.
Michael Marcantonio, who attended the middle school and high school in Northport, said he worries about several classmates who developed cancers.
“It needs to be labeled a toxic waste site, a Superfund site and closed permanently,” Marcantonio said.
A state health department review found a “statistically significant” higher rate of leukemia among Northport High School’s 2016 graduating class.
Now, in a separate probe, the state announced it will be looking into the health of the entire community.
“We’ll look at all different kinds of cancers and we’ll also look at different time periods to see whether or not the elevation persists over time,” Deputy Health Commissioner Brad Hutton said.
“My concern is all the children that have gone there and are now adults, and the long-term impact of being exposed,” parent Lawrence Beck said.
As for where the students will attend class for the rest of the school year, eighth graders will now be bused to Northport High School, seventh graders to East Northport Middle School, and sixth graders to Norwood Avenue Elementary.
The school district said it hopes the cleanup will be over by summer. The state said its cancer probe will take 12-18 months.