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Mercury at schools cleared, classes resume Tuesday

A call came in on Thursday afternoon from a student claiming that some students may have come in contact with that mercury, according to Clovis Unified.

UPDATE: Monday, January 15, 2018, 1:00 p.m. - The Clovis Unified School District released the statement on Monday with updates on the hazmat mercury scare.

Following the weekend clean up by representatives from the Fresno County Department of Health, Environmental Protection Agency and PARC Environmental, the campuses of Clovis East High School and Reyburn Intermediate School have been confirmed ready to re-open after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend as scheduled.

  • Crews have tested every room on the campuses and confirmed that they are clean of mercury.
  • Mitigation work included removing carpeting and room contents from a handful of classrooms and cleaning hard surfaces. Assessments were completed before and after the mitigation efforts to confirm the clean-up job was effective at removing all of the metal from classrooms and a sidewalk on campus.
  • Two classrooms require complete re-carpeting, and classes that meet in these rooms have been relocated for the coming week. One other classroom had carpet patched and will be re-carpeted in the coming weeks.
  • To date, there have been no adverse health effects related to the schools reported to Fresno County Department of Public Health.

The expansive and immediate response by our school site leaders, Fresno County Department of Public Health, and our local law enforcement and public safety personnel is a testament to the priority placed on the safety of our students. The quick response by the Environmental Protection Agency officials, even in the face of the massive public health fire, flood and mud-slide clean-ups the agency is engaged in around the state is especially appreciated by our District leadership. School staff has been in direct communication with any staff members or families of students directly or peripherally impacted by this incident to ensure they are kept well informed of mitigation work throughout the past five days. We are pleased to be able to assure our community with certainty that the campuses are cleared of any remnant of this metal, and look forward to resuming school on schedule Tuesday morning.

Kelly Avants, APR
Chief Communication Officer
Clovis Unified School District


In addition, we have learned the bus has been cleaned and was released on Monday.

It's unknown exactly how many students came in contact with the mercury, so out of caution, the district cast a very wide net.

The district believes about two dozen students may have actually been in contact with it but brought in about 150 for testing.


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UPDATE: Friday, January 12, 2018 4:48 p.m. -- Here is an updated list events that will now take place at different locations because of the mercury clean-up.

  • CE Girls Basketball – New location, Clovis North Freshman 4 p.m., small gym; JV, 5:30 p.m., small gym; varsity, 7 p.m., large gym
  • CE Boys Basketball –New location, Clovis North

Freshman, 7 p.m., small gym; JV, 4 p.m., large gym; varsity, 5:30 p.m., large gym

  • CE JV Girls Soccer – New location, Clovis West JV, 3 p.m.
  • CE Varsity Girls Soccer –New location, Tice Park, Varsity, 3 p.m.
  • CE JV Boys Soccer –New location, Clovis West, JV, 3 p.m.
  • CE Varsity Boys Soccer – New location, Tice Park Varsity, 5 p.m.
  • Elementary Wrestling tournament Saturday – new location, Granite Ridge Gymnasium, same times
  • Little Hoopsters on Saturday at Clovis East is canceled.

School district officials say the school is scheduled to re-open Tuesday morning unless the clean-up takes longer.

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UPDATE: January 11, 2018 10:57 p.m. -- Clovis Unified has announced Clovis East High School and Reyburn Intermediate school will be closed Friday, January 12.

It says the decision to temporarily close the school was made in conjunction Fresno County Department of Public Health and the Environmental Protection Agency as a precautionary measure, and to allow for on-going assessment and clean-up of classrooms that may have been impacted by the presence of loose mercury brought to school by a student.

According to the school district, there is no evidence that anyone at Reagan Elementary School was exposed to the mercury and the school will remain open Friday.

As for co-curricular activities, they will all be held in relocated venues.

Clovis Unified says it will keep parents and staff updated using its automated telephone, email, and text systems.

It also said, at this time, school is expected to continue as regularly scheduled as of Tuesday, January 16.

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The Fresno Fire Department, Clovis Fire Department, and Clovis Unified are now trying to figure out how and why a student brought loose mercury onto the Reyburn campus and a school bus.

A call came in on Thursday afternoon from a student claiming that some students may have come in contact with that mercury, according to Clovis Unified.

That prompted a swift response from Fresno Fire. Hazmat crews made their way to Fancher Creek Elementary were a few kids said they had come in contact with the loose mercury.

As that was happening, Clovis Fire responded to the Clovis Unified bus yard to check for contamination on the school bus carrying those children.

Clovis Unified says the student who had the mercury traveled on the bus from the Reagan Educational Center’s high school and intermediate school to Fancher.

Here's part of the statement released by the school district.

We have investigated this incident to its source and are making direct contact tonight with the small number of students with whom we know came into contact with this mercury. At this time, no one has reported suffering from symptoms of mercury exposure. Out of an abundance of caution, we also wanted to inform the entire Clovis East High and Reyburn Intermediate school community of the symptoms of mercury exposure. If your child has any rash-like skin irritation, burning in the nose, or breathing difficulty, please seek medical attention immediately. Washing your hands and making sure any clothes worn today are washed is also a way to prevent skin irritation from mercury.

Clovis Unified officials say no mercury is stored on campus and they believe the mercury was brought to school by the student.

The statement went on further to say that:

If your child reports to you that they were in contact with the mercury, which is a silver, molten substance that looks like a ball bearing, please take the above-described steps. If you have reason to believe that you have loose mercury in your home, please contact 911 to coordinate disposal of this substance.

Fire officials say a company will come in to test the substance to see what exactly it is.

Environmental Health is now getting involved because that is standard practice when mercury is involved in an incident.

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