A dozen students and a staff member at a Boston middle school were hospitalized Thursday morning after being exposed to pepper spray.
Boston EMS said multiple units responded to Washington Irving Middle School in the city's Roslindale neighborhood around 11 a.m. after a student discharged pepper spray in the cafeteria.
School officials said the building was evacuated for more than 30 minutes, at which time students were able to return to the auditorium until fire officials determined that it was safe to return to class. Classes then resumed as scheduled.
The students and staff member were taken to area hospitals as a precaution, according to school officials. All of them have since been released. The students' approximate ages are 9 to 12 years old.
One student named Janelle returned to school after being treated at the hospital — still with her hospital scrubs on.
"I came down for lunch and while I was getting closer in the line, everyone started coughing and then I felt something weird in my throat and I started coughing. I got light headed," Janelle recalled.
"Boston Fire ventilated the cafeteria. Determined through their meters it was no other, no gases or anything we had to concern ourselves with," Deputy Superintendent of Boston EMS Steven McHugh said.
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Parent Norah Foster, whose son is in the eighth grade, decided to go get him from school despite officials given the school the all clear.
"I came to pick him up early cause I was afraid. Because I don't know about the pepper spray. If it's around the building it could affect the kids. They should have dismissed them early," Foster said.
The student who discharged the pepper spray, whose identity was not released, will be disciplined, school officials said.
"BPS cannot comment on whether or not the student who sprayed the pepper spray will face criminal charges, but as always we work closely with Boston Police. BPS focuses on providing students counseling and intervention, and would issue any discipline in accordance with the district's Code of Conduct," read a statement from Boston Public Schools Press Secretary Dan O'Brien.