Middlesex parents to address carbon dioxide concerns at meeting
MIDDLESEX BOROUGH — Parents and the superintendent will meet face-to-face Monday night about the high levels of carbon dioxide in the air at the Von Mauger Middle School.
The meeting is scheduled for Middlesex High School at 7 p.m.
"Public health and safety experts, as well as school officials, will be present as Von E. Mauger School CO2 test results and timelines are explained," according to a notice on the district website.
Parents are upset because their children are coming home from the Middlesex Borough school tired and feeling nauseous. Despite the complaints, Superintendent Dr. Linda Madison insists that the air quality in the school has tested as safe, and parents do not need to keep their children home as they did last week.
The tests showed that several classrooms contained carbon dioxide levels exceeding 1,000 parts per million, but a representative from the NJ Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSHA) said that this does not represent a health hazard. The report encouraged teachers to open windows and recommended that the school inspect its HVAC system in order to improve air circulation.
"Students and staff should continue to attend school as they normally would," Madison said.
Kelly Giardina, a parent whose 12-year-old son attends the school, organized a meeting on Sunday night of parents to prepare and organize their thoughts together and focus on specific questions they want answered. She is also mounting a campaign as a write-in candidate for an empty board of education seat.
"We wanted to try to get all the emotions out (Sunday night) so (Monday night) we can face the facts of what happened, and what they're doing about it now," she said.
Giardina said the clear odorless and tasteless gas has been present in the school since May 2017 when the Board of Education brought in a company to test the air quality.
Giardina said the questions parents want answers to are:
- What are the ranges of effects of being exposed to different levels of carbon dioxide?
- Is there a difference in the effect carbon dioxide has on adults and children?
- What is the effect on children with respiratory issues?
- What was done over the summer to fix the issue?
- What is the action plan with specific dates so the administration can be held accountable?
- What level of carbon dioxide is acceptable in a classroom to the administration, and what's the plan to maintain that level?
Mayor Ronald J. DiMura said in a statement last week he learned that Madison had known about the situation for two years, and said it was "unacceptable" she didn't tell him.
“If it is true that the superintendent has known of this very dangerous issue for two years and has not disclosed the information to our office and notified the proper health officials, that is completely unacceptable,” DiMura said. “If the problem was discovered years ago, it should have been resolved and not still exist today. These conditions need to be thoroughly addressed immediately, regardless of what work is required.”
DiMura and Madison did not return messages seeking comment.