Small community grapples with student health concerns

QUINCY, Mich. (WLNS) – State, county and local officials are carefully monitoring Quincy Community Schools after parents have reported students experiencing neurological issues.

The youth have had seizures and tremors among other symptoms. 6 News spoke with more than a dozen parents who have children in the Quincy Community Schools, located in Branch County. Some tell 6 News they were unaware of growing concerns in the community until a letter from School Superintendent Marc Kramer was posted to social media on Feb. 16.

The letter noted the district was aware of concerns about “potential environmental issues at Qunicy High School.”

“The school district takes these concerns seriously and we are actively investigating the reported issues,” the letter reports. “Quincy Community Schools has recently contacted the Branch Hillsdale St. Joseph Community Health Agency and is working closely with them to investigate concerns from parents regarding students who have experienced seizures, tremors, and other neurological symptoms.”

Kramer’s letter reports the district began receiving calls over the previous week about the health concerns.

Village and school officials tell 6 News testing for potential contaminates is underway in the small village of 1,557 people and school district of 1,135 students. Both air and water samples are being taken and analyzed.

Quincy High School is experiencing reports of “several” students experiencing unexplained neurological issues. (WLNS)Quincy High School is experiencing reports of “several” students experiencing unexplained neurological issues. (WLNS)

Quincy High School is experiencing reports of “several” students experiencing unexplained neurological issues. (WLNS)

Concerned parents attended Monday night’s Board of Education meeting to express their concerns.

“My first thought is, ‘OK, I need to get ahold of the health department and we need to discuss with the medical folks. The health department that are the experts,” Kramer told 6 News affiliate WWMT. “What are our next steps and how can we support these families, and what can we do for our school district.”

In a statement from Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency Public Information Officer Kris Dewey, the agency confirms it is in “the beginning stages of investigation.”

Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency. (WLNS)Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency. (WLNS)

Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency. (WLNS)

“The investigative process will require the gathering of information, information analysis, and the assistance of families with students who have experienced neurological symptoms which may include seizures, tremors, etc.,” Dewey wrote.

Scott Dean, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lansing and Energy, tells 6 News the agency is aware of the situation in Qunicy, and “is providing technical advice to the village water department as they investigate. We are also coordinating with the local health department.”

Parents who spoke with 6 News expressed deep concern about the causes of the issues and proposed their theories – including complications from COVID, the age of the school building and the water pipes inside.

Village Utility Manager William Poole tells 6 News water testing is being conducted at all three district school buildings, which share the same property, as well as air quality testing from a third party.

And what exactly is being sought? Bacteria and contaminants which could include, “disinfectant by-products, metals. Anything that could possibly cause an issue for the students, health.”

Poole says air testing samples could take as many as three weeks before they’re reviewed and reported back. Water testing results could be back within a week.

“Anytime there is health issues, we want to know what’s going on,” he says. “So, until we get some of these results back, we’re basically just trying to move forward with everything as we can and hopefully we’ll find out what’s happening.”

School officials say they are providing students with bottled water while testing continues. And health officials are asking any parents of children with symptoms to contact their healthcare provider.

6 News has spoken with the parent of one of the ill students. That student, who is suffering from neurological issues, is undergoing testing out of state at the Cleveland Clinic.

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