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Forum Communications, Published December 18 2012

Minnesota school evacuated; students stricken with unknown ailment

PAYNESVILLE, Minn. — Paynesville Area Secondary School was evacuated and closed Tuesday because of suspected air quality issues that also affected a choir concert Monday evening.

According to a statement from the Paynesville Area Health Care System, the hospital was notified at 9 p.m. Monday that several students had fallen ill at the choir concert. Nine patients were treated.

Tuesday morning, the hospital was notified at about 10 a.m. that students were experiencing lightheadedness, headaches, nausea and feeling faint. Ten patients were treated and released from the hospital’s emergency department, and a dozen were seen at the clinic, according to the release.

The cause of the illness is undetermined and still under investigation, according to the release from the hospital.

Ashton Knapp, a ninth-grader at Paynesville Secondary School, said in a telephone interview that it was “an unforgettable choir concert” Monday, as students started fainting or leaving the stage because they felt ill.

As the choir was about to begin its final last song, the school was evacuated.

School officials could not be reached Tuesday afternoon for comment. The school has about 500 students in grades 6-12.