Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Parents express concern about poison ivy outbreak at Hutchinson Elementary School


Parents are expressing concern after their children encountered poison ivy at Hutchinson Elementary School and got the inflamed itchy rashes the plant causes.

Parent Zehra Parvez said at least 30 students have made contact with the plant at the school, based on her conversations with other parents.

“My son got poison ivy during a school event, after there’d already been a number of cases,” said Parvez. “It ended up spreading near his eye, and he had to take a course of steroids. For such a basic matter of health and safety, I was really surprised there was no timely communication from the administration, information or even expression of sympathy.”

Amy Lienert, an outdoor educator and parent of another Hutchinson student, said there is poison ivy at Hutchinson as well as Julianne’s Playground, though there is much more at Hutchinson. Additionally, she said she saw signs of remediation at Julianne’s.

Lienert said there have been warnings in the daily announcements at the school about poison ivy, including from Hutchinson Principal Dr. Trisha Fitzgerald about limiting recess to the blacktop and staying away from anything green to be safe. She said Fitzgerald is doing her part to manage the situation, but solving the problem is ultimately the district’s responsibility.

Lienert has been working to get the district to address the issue at Hutch since 2022. She has sent emails to officials about the issue, including photos of the plant and was told her concerns were passed along to the facilities department. But she said she hasn’t seen the issue properly addressed. She also posted on Facebook to let other parents know about the ivy’s presence and how to identify it.

The reason for the intensity of the problem this year, Lienert said, is because there is a particularly hardy strain of poison ivy present around Pelham. However, poison ivy needs to managed seasonally, she said, which the district has not been doing as far as she knows.

“It’s important just in general that everyone knows what it looks like, but the district needs to be (on) top of its properties,” said Lienert.

Fitzgerald and district spokesman Alex Wolff haven’t responded requests for information.

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Kiran Schwaderer, Managing Editor
Kiran Schwaderer is a sophomore at Pelham Memorial High School. She has been part of the Pelham Examiner since fifth grade. She enjoys playing the flute in the PMHS band and jazz band, playing the harp, and participating in softball. She is very excited to continue to contribute to the Pelham Examiner.
Oliver Lavallee, Assistant Managing Editor
Oliver Lavallee is a junior at Pelham Memorial High School. In addition to writing, he enjoys reading, drawing and playing drums.

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    Lisa BuzinMay 28, 2024 at 9:17 pm

    Great article….miss you both at the Hutchinson Bear!