Twelve children at an Alaska summer care program were mistakenly served floor sealant in the place of milk with their breakfasts on Tuesday, the school district claims.
In a statement released by the Juneau School District, the organization revealed the hazardous chemical ingestion took place at summer care program at Sitʼ Eeti Shaanáx̱-Glacier Valley Elementary School.
The school program, called RALLY, is a state-licensed program for children ages 5 to 12.
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The school district claims that when breakfast was served to the children shortly before 9 a.m., several students “complained of the milk tasting bad and burning their mouth/throat.”
As per the statement, staff members then immediately followed up by smelling and tasting the liquid. They also checked the milk containers and labels, only to find that the “milk” served to children was actually “a floor sealant resembling liquid milk.”
The school board claims staff immediately instructed the children to stop consuming the substance, and removed the liquid from their tables. Poison control was contacted shortly afterward.
“All steps provided by poison control were carefully followed and parents/guardians of the students who ingested the chemicals were informed of the incident,” the school district wrote.
One student was taken to a regional hospital where they received treatment. Two other children were picked up by their guardians from the care program, and according to the statement from the school board, “may have gone to seek medical advice.”
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The condition of the students who ingested floor sealant was not revealed in the school district’s statement.
The breakfast — and accompanying floor sealant — was served by an external vendor called NANA Management Services (NMS).
The statement claims NMS staff disposed of the remaining floor sealant and removed it from the premises.
According to the Associated Press, Juneau police are leading an investigation into the incident, with the cooperation of the school district. Police do not believe there was any criminal or malintent in serving the sealant to students.
School superintendent Bridget Weiss told the Associated Press the milk and the floor sealant both come in large plastic bags that are stored inside cardboard boxes off campus.
Weiss said that somehow, boxes with sealant were “stored or moved on the same pallet as large pouches of milk.”
“We don’t know how that happened, but they were all put on the same pallet,” she said. “That pallet was delivered, and the assumption was that it was milk because that’s what we thought was being delivered.”
Police are investigating why food and chemicals were being stored in the same building.
“Our students are doing fine,” Weiss told AP, noting that all chemicals used within the school must have a low ingestion risk. She said in the evening after the incident a few students complained of upset stomachs, “but many others were feeling well.”
A food inspector visited the school on Wednesday morning to ensure proper protocols were in place.
“We are up and running today,” Weiss said.