PRIMARY school pupils will be returning to their school next week after months away following safety fears relating to a strange smell.
Gilded Hollins Primary School in Leigh has been declared safe by public health experts after a number of tests were completed and children will return on Monday January 18.
The safety of our children is paramount and it was vital that we allowed the relevant agencies to have the time to make sure the school was safeDarran Nash
An unpleasant odour was detected in school in September and some staff complained of symptoms that were thought to be related to this. It is thought that a chemical irritant was the likely cause of this odour.
The school building was closed since the issue was raised with pupils having their lessons at Lowton Church of England High School during the closure.
Various departments from Wigan Council, Public Health England and the school worked together to enable testing to be carried out by leading public health experts and industry experts.
Conclusive results show that the school’s air quality is safe. A new air ventilation system has also been installed in the school which has improved air circulation in all rooms.
Professor Kate Ardern, Wigan Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “We are extremely pleased that pupils and staff can now return to their school.
“This has been a complex investigation which has involved a wide-range of experts working together.
“The latest tests are clear that the air quality is safe and parents should take confidence and be reassured by these results.”
The investigation was unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem but it occurred at the time refurbishment work was taking place in the school.
As a consequence the plywood in the school was tested for chemicals but was found to be safe.
Prof Ardern added: “In incidents such as this it is possible that we may never have a conclusive answer as to what was the cause.
“We have carried out an extensive investigation to test out all possible hypotheses and ensure the school is safe for children and staff.
“While we may not have a definitive answer parents and the community should be reassured that we have explored all relevant avenues to be absolutely confident the air quality is now safe for pupils to return.”
Headteacher Darran Nash said: “This has been a difficult time for everyone at Gilded Hollins but we are delighted to be finally going back to our school.
“I would like to thank all the staff, governors and especially parents for their patience during the last few months.
“The safety of our children is paramount and it was vital that we allowed the relevant agencies to have the time to make sure the school was safe.
“I would also like to thank Lowton Church of England High School for welcoming us to their school and enabling our children’s education to continue during this time.”
Parents have been contacted to let them know about the return on Monday and they will also receive further information about the results of the investigation both from the school and Wigan Council.
Experts in Public Health England supported the investigation including leading experts nationally in the field of environmental public health who concluded the air quality was safe.
Extensive testing and a full report were also obtained from global testing company Bureau Veritas which concluded air quality was safe.