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Legionella Across the District

Jordan Broking, Managing Editor

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Across the West Orange School District, strains of legionella bacteria have been found in 9 out of the 12 schools in the district.

Legionella testing began in August at Redwood Elementary School after a student attended a summer camp program there, and got sick with what the doctor thought was Legionnaires’ Disease. Fortunately, the child did not contract legionnaires, but the testing still went underway. After testing was done, 4 of the water sources tested at Redwood came back positive for low amounts of the Legionella Bacteria, which then prompted the testing of the rest of school district.

The Betty Madalena Early Learning Center, Kelly Elementary School, and Liberty Middle Schools were the only schools in the district to test negative. In the majority of the nine schools that tested positive for legionella, there was more than one strain of the bacteria found in the water supplies. All the strains of bacteria found could cause pneumonia, but like Redwood, there were low counts of the bacteria in the schools affected.

In a statement given to the public on Sept. 25, each building affected by legionella would undergo a chlorination process to remove the bacteria. Redwood underwent its chlorination process on Sept 10 and 11, with the results later testing negative for legionella after the chlorination was complete. As of recently, the rest of the schools underwent their own chlorination processes.

At the recent Board Meeting held on Oct 15, Board Secretary John Calavano briefed the Board of Education that Gregory, Hazel, St. Cloud, Redwood, and Mt Pleasant came back negative for legionella. An additional update on the rest of the schools would be given sometime in the near future. Vice President of the BOE, Mr. Robertson, asked Calavano if the boiler temps were raised in the schools affected by the legionella bacteria, to which his response was yes. Mr. Calavano also notified the board that just like the water is tested for lead every “several years”  the water will continued to be tested on for legionella bacteria. No students and faculty in the district have been reported ill from Legionnaires Disease.

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Legionella Across the District