JAY — A handful of children from Spruce Mountain Elementary School required medical treatment Friday after they swallowed small magnets brought into the school by a group of students.

School Principal Pat St. Clair sent out a letter to parents Friday afternoon to alert them of the situation.

“I would like to inform you that several students at Spruce Mountain Elementary School brought small, round magnets to school and shared them with other students,” the letter begins. “Unfortunately, some students ingested the magnets and ended up in the emergency room.  Please have a conversation with your child regarding these magnets to verify that he/she does not have them in their possession and have not ingested them. If your child has ingested the magnets, please call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 and/or go to the emergency room immediately.”

The letter, which was followed by robocalls to parents and notices posted on social media and the district’s web page, does not specify how many children were believed to have swallowed the magnets.

By dinnertime Friday, the magnet fiasco was the topic of conversation throughout the community and on social media. Some of those who weighed in were alarmed by the situation while others were simply perplexed.

“Why are we putting non food beverage items in our mouths at 3rd-6th grade level?” one parent of a third grader wanted to know.

A few parents questioned whether the school district did enough to alert parents to the situation — one woman complained that automated text messages would have been more effective than social media posts. But those complaints were met with suggestions that the parents themselves bear some responsibility.

“Children are ingesting magnets and we’re asking the district to be more diligent?” one man wrote on Facebook. “How about as parents we make sure our kids aren’t eating magnets!”

It was not immediately clear where the magnets had come from or why they were brought to school and distributed.

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