Parents concerned by teachers wearing masks at Pontiac school

Teachers union president says dust from construction has caused some students, teachers to have asthma attacks at Pontiac Middle School

Author: Rod Meloni, Local 4 Business Editor, @RodMeloni
Published On: Mar 20 2013 05:37:28 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 20 2013 06:52:29 PM EDT
PONTIAC, Mich. -

Forentino Martinez got a surprise when he picked up his son at Pontiac Middle School on Wednesday.

He heard a story of teachers wearing surgical masks at the school.

"He said the teacher got a mask," Martinez said.

Another parent, Barbara Terrell, said she saw the masks when she went into the office Wednesday morning. She also saw the construction project.

"I saw like part of that area all blocked off and then some teachers in the office wearing masks and stuff, and no one would really say what was going on or anything," Terrell said.

More: Headlines from Pontiac, Mich.

The school district says only one classroom at the school is involved and it is boarded up to keep the dust contained. The air ducts are open to the outside to keep the fresh air coming in.

However, teachers association President Aimee McKeever said some teachers and students suffered asthma attacks and had to be treated at a nearby hospital. Those are the masked teachers.

"The superintendent and I have had a conversation and right now the environment is safe. They've done air quality tests every hour. They've indicated that those tests do not show any issues right now," said McKeever.

That's not enough for parents and grandparents.

"If he gets sick not being protected, not having a mask and the teachers have a mask, I think that's unfair," said Dee Hall, whose grandchild attends the school.

Terrell said she would have at least liked to hear about this from the school.

"Yeah, I'm upset that they didn't tell us anything, or let us know. I mean, I'd rather them tell us and give us the decision whether or not we not our kids in this school," she said.

McKeever says a longer 6-hour test was taken Wednesday to check air quality. It has been sent to a lab and is expected back on Thursday. The results likely will determine whether they keep the school open.