Hazmat investigation continues; middle school classes canceled F - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Hazmat investigation continues; middle school classes canceled Friday

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Fire engines arrive at Walter Johnson Middle School on Sept. 7, 2016. (Source: Las Vegas Fire and Rescue) Fire engines arrive at Walter Johnson Middle School on Sept. 7, 2016. (Source: Las Vegas Fire and Rescue)
Outdoor signage of Walter Johnson Junior High School is shown during a hazardous materials response on Sept. 7, 2016. (FOX5) Outdoor signage of Walter Johnson Junior High School is shown during a hazardous materials response on Sept. 7, 2016. (FOX5)
Parents wait outside Walter Johnson Junior High School amid a hazmat investigation on Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Source: FOX5) Parents wait outside Walter Johnson Junior High School amid a hazmat investigation on Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Source: FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Clark County School District will host an open house Thursday evening to answer questions after hundreds of students at a junior high school were kept on campus into the nighttime hours as emergency workers screened them for mercury exposure. 

It will be held at Jacobson Elementary School at 8400 Boseck Drive at 6 p.m. 

On Thursday afternoon, CCSD officials reported classes at Walter Johnson Junior High School would again be canceled Friday. School officials said the school is being cleaned and decontaminated in order to contain further exposure. 

In addition, students' personal belongings such as shoes and backpacks will remain at the school for screening, district officials said. 

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue on Wednesday reported a hazmat situation was being investigated at a Las Vegas middle school.

A hazmat crew was sent to Walter Johnson Junior High School, located at 7701 Ducharme Ave., near Buffalo and Alta drives, after noon.

The department said that no students were threatened and the crew was surveying the situation.

According to Clark County School District spokeswoman Melinda Malone, students and staff potentially exposed to the substance were being quarantined as a precaution. In addition, she said parts of the school, including the gym, have been temporarily closed off. 

Still, Malone said, the school day was going on as usual. 

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue spokesman Timothy Szymanski identified the substance as a small amount of mercury that was in an old thermometer. 

As of 2 p.m., students were not being released. A few dozen parents arrived at the school to pick their children up. 

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency were summoned to the school. 

About 6:25 p.m. Wednesday, school officials reported students were being released. They additionally reported EPA officials would be collecting shoes and backpacks belonging to students and staff members. Students' belongings will be returned at a later time. Each student had to be screened and cleared before being dismissed. 

School officials said classes at the middle school were canceled Thursday as a precautionary measure. 

The following message was sent to parents of Johnson Junior High School students Wednesday afternoon: 

Dear Parents:

Johnson Middle School had a chemical element mercury contamination on campus today. We believe the mercury was brought onto campus by a student.

According to EPA guidelines, all students must be tested before they can go home.

Safety is our top priority and we want to make sure students are safe to leave the school.

No one is in immediate medical danger, the goal is to contain exposure.

Food will be provided to students via CCSD's food service department.

When your child has been cleared he or she will call you so that you can pick your student up. If you cannot provide transportation and your child normally rides the school bus, transportation will be provided via CCSD transportation.

Students will be released for pick up on the west side of the school.

We apologize for the inconvenience but need to keep our school and staff as safe as possible.

We will provide additional messaging as soon as we can.

As nighttime fell, remaining students were still being screened and several parents stood by on campus to wait for the children to be cleared. Some were even held into early Thursday morning.

In all, about 16 hours passed from the initial call to the last student screening.

Stay with FOX5 for updates. 

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