HARTFORD, Conn. — The Sports and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford will be open for classes on Wednesday with a two-hour delay. The school is no longer contaminated with fentanyl, an environmental official told FOX61 on Tuesday afternoon.
There are no more areas inside the school showing traces of fentanyl, an official from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said.
Rick Swan, assistant director of the DEEP's emergency response unit, spoke exclusively to FOX61, detailing the extensive cleaning and decontamination process.
"Imagine your kids having a fight with flour, okay? And think about that and then run through the house with the flour on them. That's kind of what we're dealing with. The same type of idea. It goes everywhere, and it travels," he said.
A third-party contractor came in to collect samples once the cleaning and decontamination was complete. The samples were then brought to a certified lab in New Jersey.
"We wanted to send it to a lab to make sure that everything is checked, double checked and triple checked," Swan said.
The building has been cleared for re-entry, according to Hartford Public Schools.
"We had to take a pause, and work with a number of agencies to decontaminate our school. And even as I say that, that's really hard for me to say. Decontaminate our school," said superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez during a Board of Education Meeting Tuesday evening.
During the two-hour delay on Wednesday, teachers and staff can use that time to meet and prepare for students' return.
Midterms are currently postponed. Social workers and school counselors will be available, as well as therapy dogs.
The school will have an additional school safety office onsite and Hartford police will be on patrol during arrival and dismissal for the rest of the week.
There will also be random safety screenings, which include bag searches and no-touch wands.
On Thursday, Jan. 13, a 13-year-old student came in contact with fentanyl that was brought into the school and suffered an overdose. He died in the hospital on Saturday. Two other students who were exposed were sent to the hospital reporting dizziness but were later released.
Officials said several agencies have worked for days to ensure the building is safe for students and staff to return.
"We wanted to send it to a lab to make sure that everything is checked, double-checked and triple-checked," Swan said.
Leah Myers is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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