School, district leaders discuss air quality with Whitesides Elementary parents

Parents, staff and district leaders gathered at Whitesides Elementary School to address the latest test results and elevated CO2 levels found at the school.
Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 10:27 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2023 at 6:20 PM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - Parents, school staff and district leaders gathered at Charleston County’s Whitesides Elementary school Thursday night to address the latest test results and concerns about elevated CO2 levels found at the campus.

The school recently conducted eLearning days “out of an abundance of caution” after school officials discovered higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide in certain areas of the school. The school said two students had “medical emergencies” but Principal Michelle Conner, in a message to parents on Oct. 18, said they were unsure of the emergencies were connected in any way with each other or with air quality concerns.

The school district did not allow broadcast media stations inside Thursday night’s meeting, even without cameras.

Many who attended the meeting declined to speak about what happened behind closed doors, but one Whitesides parent and a Mount Pleasant council member who attended were overall satisfied with how things went.

“I feel a lot better about the situation walking out of today’s meeting than I did on Monday’s meeting,” parent Daniel Brownstein said. “I know there’s still a lot of concern among the parents, but at least their concerns are being heard.”

Brownstein said it seems the Charleston County School District is taking action to get to the bottom of what is happening.

“The district is bringing in an HVAC company starting tomorrow,” he said. “They’re going to decommission the unit and then fire it back up and conduct any repairs that are necessary for the ventilation system, and I think that’s a positive step.”

Mount Pleasant Councilmember John Iacofano attended Thursday’s meeting after receiving “several” calls about this matter from concerned citizens.

“This is about our children, the most important thing there is,” Iacofano said. “So, I understand the concerns that parents have and feel that CCSD is answering questions and trying to get to the bottom of this.”

Both Brownstein and Iacofano explained how a group of parents with expertise led most of the meeting.

“There was a medical doctor, there was someone with air quality testing experience, so I feel like having those outside people involved in this committee is a positive step,” Brownstein said.

Charleston County School District Chief Operating Officer Jeff Borowy confirmed on Friday that he apologized to families in attendance Thursday night for allowing school board member Ed Kelley stay the night at Whitesides Wednesday night. He said he believed that Kelley’s intentions were good, but after it was not perceived well by many, Borowy regrets that decision.

The district is allowing the media to speak with their chief operating officer Friday about an update on the air quality and what will come next.