Six students, teacher injured in OCS laboratory explosion

By Jay Braman Jr.
An explosion occurred in a chemistry lab at Onteora High School at 11 a.m. on Tuesday that broke windows in the room and sent six students and their teacher to the hospital. District officials have refused to release the names of the injured students or their teacher. Those same officials have reported that all of the students and their teacher were reported to be OK less than three hours after the blast. All of the student’s parents have been notified, they said.
The incident, which happened at the high school on Route 28 in Boiceville, required the response of Olive Police and Mobile Life Ambulance.
According to school officials, an unexpected chemical reaction occurred while a teacher was demonstrating the properties of the chemical potassium chlorate in the fifth-period chemistry class. The incident involved less than three grams of the substance, and occurred while the teacher demonstrated the chemicals’ reaction to food products.
The reaction caused an explosion that one teacher said sounded like a really loud door slam through his closed door, but officials later admitted that the strength of the blast broke windows in the room. It remains unclear if problems such as hearing loss were examined.
Teachers in the wing went immediately to the student’s and teacher’s assistance, followed immediately by the high school’s quick response team. The response team is composed of all building administrators, school nurses, social workers and counselors.
Seven students and the teacher were transported to local hospitals by Olive and Mobile Life ambulances. Two of those students and the teacher were treated for minor lacerations, and the rest were checked for minor injuries though those injuries were not announced. Middle and high school social workers accompanied students to the hospitals.
The high school was put in modified lockdown, termed “stay put” in order to concentrate on moving students and the staff member as efficiently as possible. Schedules for the rest of the middle and high school students were adjusted to allow all students to receive lunch service.
By 1:30 p.m., officials reported that school life was back to normal.