Outwood Academy School in Ripon has opened as normal today after four students collapsed during a Remembrance Assembly yesterday morning (November 11).
Up to 40 students at the secondary school on Clotherholme Road required medical assistance after reportedly ‘overheating’ during a Remembrance assembly.
Students began showing signs of ‘sickness and feeling faint sometime between 11am and 11.30am’ police said as four children collapsed.
However, this caused a ‘ripple effect’ through the school as anxiety which swept through the school a senior fire officer said.
Fire crews from across Yorkshire turned out to carry out a safety sweep of the school, with a number of ambulances and police officers.
The specialists detected no sign of carbon monoxide poisoning or any other hazardous materials.
Station manager Dave Winspear said: “Children were feeling unwell, nauseous, dizzy. The ambulance service treated children for those symptoms.
“We worked through our protocol to see if there was anything untoward and assessed the school for any hazardous materials.”
He said the emergency services did not know why the children initially felt ill, but said the hall where the 11am service was held was warm. “We are of the view the children just fainted and there was a ripple effect throughout the school.
“More children felt anxiety and started to feel concerned and the thing has escalated.
“I would like to assure you, we have carried out a very thorough assessment and found no hazardous materials or anything untoward in the school environment.”
Superintendent Nick Hunter at North Yorkshire Police, said:“In cases like this where we have such a high number of people fall ill in such a small environment, it is our responsibility to take this extremely seriously and ensure a multi-agency response to fully investigate the circumstances.
“The safety of all involved is paramount and we will take all necessary measures to ensure everyone’s safety.
“Thankfully in this case, it was nothing serious and the incident has been brought to a safe conclusion.”
Pupil Joshua Hall, 15, said: “We were all in assembly for Remembrance Day and people were just passing out towards the end.
“It was pretty scary, it was talked about the whole day and it kept getting worse and worse.
“My dad didn’t know what was happening, I didn’t have my phone so I couldn’t text him.”
A parent, who did not wish to be named, said: “I rang the school to check my daughter was OK.
“I was told a couple of children had collapsed during a remembrance service.
“As it finished another couple went down. That’s when the fire brigade were called.”
Another pupil, who did not wish to be named, said several students had collapsed in the school’s hall.
She said: “When the first boy was sick, we thought it was one off but then there was a big slap on the floor and someone had fainted.
“After that it was a bit of a domino effect, another three or four collapsed and then people started leaving the hall to get fresh air.
“One of the boys who fell was a bit concussed and had a big lump on his head.
“After that they ushered us out quickly and a couple of girls had panic attacks.”
The pupil said lessons went ahead as normal during the afternoon but more students complained of feeling sick and suffering from headaches.
County Councillor Bernard Bateman praised the emergency services for their response and sympathised with the school’s management who were constrained in what they could tell parents, once the emergency services took control.
Another parent who asked not to be named said he was relieved the reason for the incident could be “mass hysteria” rather than anything more serious.
His heart sank when he saw the large response by the emergency services but his fears were quickly eased, he said.
His daughter came home feeling faint, but he was sure that was because of how others had been feeling.
He praised the way the school handled the situation, and said he was put in the picture when he rang to ask what was happening.
“It’s a good school and I have full confidence they would not order kids back if there was the slightest impression there might be something wrong.
“It’s a relief to think it might be just caused by mass hysteria.”
Outwood Grange Academies Trust said four students fainted during the school’s remembrance service assembly, including one who was taken to a minor incident centre “as a precaution” after bumping their head.
A trust spokeswoman said: “Following the assembly, a further 20 students presented themselves during the course of the morning complaining of feeling faint and dizzy. At this point the academy, again as a precaution, called an ambulance.
“The ambulance service took the decision to escalate the matter as there were more than three potential causalities, as is their normal procedure, and the police and fire service attended the site.
“The emergency services have undertaken tests on the site and have quickly established that no chemicals or hazardous gases were present.
“A total of 40 students were treated on site, however, all were able to be released back to their lessons, or at the end of the school day.
“We thank the emergency services for their speedy response in attending the academy site and making the safety of our students and staff paramount.
“We also thank parents, carers and the community for giving the academy the space and time to deal with this matter and know that they would always expect us to follow the instruction of the emergency services until we are satisfied that their children are not at risk.
“The academy will be open as normal tomorrow.”