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Cortez high school evacuated Monday after odor of gas is detected

Montezuma-Cortez High School was evacuated Monday morning after the odor of gas was detected coming from an upstairs science classroom. Journal file photo
Afternoon activities postponed until Tuesday

Around 11:08 a.m. on Monday, leadership at Montezuma-Cortez High School received a report of the odor of gas, and evacuated students from the building “in an abundance of safety.”

Assistant Superintendent Eddie Ramirez provided the first email update via Deb Ramsey, and the odor of gas was reported to the Cortez Fire Protection District and other emergency personnel.

At 12:20 p.m., the school announced that students would be released from classes at 12:45 p.m. and would be out of school for the remainder of the day, with classes resuming Tuesday at the normal time.

All afternoon activities were also postponed until Tuesday.

High school Principal Jennifer Boniface sent a letter to parents and guardians of students after the announcement.

She said the administrative team was notified of a the odor coming from upstairs in the science hallway.

“The smell was pretty intense, so we notified the fire department right away and pulled the fire alarm to evacuate the building,” Boniface said.

Staff and students remained outside until the fire department gave the all clear to reenter the building, but they only allowed staff and students to stay in the downstairs area of the school only.

Atmos Energy, which was on-site, said clearing the upstairs would take longer to clear than they thought.

“At that time we decided to close our campus for the remainder of the day. We also had to cancel all after school activities including athletics. We are airing out the building and the fire department has shut off the gas to that particular classroom. By tomorrow the building will be completely safe and staff and students will be able to return to classes as normal first thing in the morning,” Boniface said.

“We appreciate the quick response of our emergency personnel, the professionalism of our staff and the good behavior of our students. Thank you for your patience, understanding and adjustments that may have been made to your schedules to pick your children up. We hope to see all students bright and early tomorrow morning,” she added.

Superintendent Tom Burris told The Journal that the odor of gas caused the evacuation, and students were sent home so ensure the safety of students and staff while the fire department worked on clearing the building.