“We were trying to push him, push him on the shoulders to wake him up,” Feruzbek Karshiev, 8, said. I was scared.” “I was kind of nervous,” Jacob Shivers, 8, said. “Something bad happened.” Colleen Sims was at work when she got an urgent call from the Loesche school nurse about her 7-year-old son, Lucas.“I didn’t know why he wasn’t waking up.” The teacher summoned the school nurse and sent Jacob, Feruzbek, and their classmates to the cafeteria for lunch. “She said he was ‘unresponsive,’ ” Sims, a registered nurse herself, recalled.Firefighters traced the deadly, odorless fumes to a portable generator on the school’s roof that construction workers were using to power their tools during roof repairs.Someone had placed it close to the air intake vents.
Reporters also found that the School District of Philadelphia, as it had at Loesche Elementary, routinely does major building renovations during school hours — even though the U. Environmental Protection Agency strongly recommends against it.
As part of its “Toxic City” series, the Inquirer and Daily News investigated environmental hazards in Philadelphia district schools.
It found that the district can take months, even years, to address reported hazards that can make children sick — peeling lead paint, deteriorating asbestos, mold, rodent infestations, leaking roofs and pipes.
“They don’t monitor the contractors closely enough and they don’t apply what they’ve learned when they go to the next school,” he said.
“They do the same thing over and over again.” Jacob Shivers, 8, with his mother, Melissa Ann Shivers, at their home in Northeast Philadelphia.