LITCHFIELD — A group of students at Libby-Tozier School in Litchfield were removed from their classroom for more than a week after a strange smell was detected in the room.
But the district has tested the air and carpeting in the classroom and found no evidence of any contaminants, according to Andrew Carlton, superintendent of Regional School Unit 4, the school district serving Litchfield, Wales and Sabattus.
Despite the negative tests, the school district is having the carpet in that classroom replaced this week, while students are away on February vacation. Before the vacation, the students were instructed in a different part of the school.
“There was a musty smell in the classroom,” Carlton said. “We got the kids out and did air quality tests and got carpet samples, which came back (negative). Libby-Tozier is an older building, and we did the testing to make sure. We have had to do this in the past. We like to be proactive rather than reactive.”
The district replaced the carpet “just in case something spilled” on it and expects to reopen the classroom next week, Carlton said. Schools across Maine are closed this week for the February vacation.
On a Facebook page for families in RSU 4, several district parents recently raised concern about the smell and the closure of the classroom, as well as the fact that they had not heard about it from the school district.
One of them wrote that her son had described the classroom as smelling “like something died in there.”
A day later, Carlton sent a note to RSU 4 families informing them about the closure and the steps the district was taking.
In his note, Carlton also said that part of the school’s water filtration system had broken and was being repaired, which required the school to hand out bottled water. This week, Carlton said the water system was repaired one day after it was broken.
About 180 students attend Libby-Tozier. It is one of two schools in RSU 4 that serve students from pre-kindergarten to second grade. The other is Sabattus Primary School. Carlton didn’t know Libby Tozier’s age immediately.
The school district has considered consolidating its primary schools in the past, but has no immediate plans to do so, according to Carlton.
“It really comes down to what’s it going to cost and what’s the feasibility for students and the communities,” he said.
The carpeting in a classroom at Libby-Tozier School in Litchfield has been replaced after an odd smell was discovered last week and students were relocated temporarily. Tests for air problems came back negative, and the room is reopening after the February break. (Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal)