MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD)- Some teachers at Whitesides Elementary say carbon dioxide levels continue to be an issue inside the school.
The concern around CO2 levels at Whitesides became more serious after two students experienced medical emergencies within the last two months.
While the district said the emergencies could not be directly linked to the CO2 levels, some teachers are left worried.
“We don’t know how it’s affecting us as teachers or these students with all of their developing lungs,” First grade teacher at Whitesides, Judy White said.
The school conducted several air quality tests and made repairs to HVAC systems that were not operating at full capacity.
They told parents, “Moving forward, facilities management will ensure the periodic collection and analysis of data to verify the safety of the environment.”
White says she uses her district-issued CO2 monito, but also installed her own.
She says there are often discrepancies between the readings and says from what she’s observed, the problem hasn’t gotten a lot better.
“The upstairs classrooms, they are seeing a discrepancy between the two. Anywhere from 5-700 parts per million,” White said. “On Monday of this week, our numbers were very high, and they had us open up our interior doors to the hallway to try and get the numbers down.”
White says they’ve resorted to opening doors and windows that would usually remain locked for security purposes, which leads to another safety issue.
The district has put more security officers in place at the school to help monitor those locations.
White said, “We can’t open any exterior doors or windows for safety reasons without having security from CCSD here.”
White says at this point, her only hope for this getting better is a fresh start.
“I do believe in my heart of hearts that this whole system needs to be pulled to keep us healthy and safe,” White said.
The Charleston County School District sent us a statement:
“CCSD is grateful for the teacher and parent advocates who are part of the Whitesides Community, who together with school administrators, are able to discuss and address concerns about air quality inside the building.
Unfortunately, yesterday [October 31, 2023] while engineers were on site doing recommissioning calculations it was noted that two of the outdoor air units had gone offline. This contributed to the higher CO2 levels noted yesterday. CCSD technicians began repairs immediately, which are still underway and expected to be completed by tomorrow morning, November 2, 2023.
As a mitigation, we began the day with classroom doors open until students arrived for classes to maintain the fresh air mix. Security staff were on campus to ensure that students remained in a secure environment while maximizing the circulation of air.
Nothing surpasses CCSD’s responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for everyone.
The district is committed to finding a path forward together so that those who work in and attend Whitesides feel secure. We have taken steps to determine the cause of the issues. Yesterday’s situation was a regrettable and frustrating setback. We remain committed to the process of identifying the problem and doing whatever is necessary to solve it; of which parent and teacher advocates have been key partners.”