Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Last Wednesday was the first two-hour late start of the Kimball school year. Students were excited enough about that, but they got an extra hour of reprieve from school.
Just before buses arrived, some teachers and staff noticed a strong gas odor in the Media Center and the first-and second-grade wing of the Elementary School.
Kelly Traurig was working bus duty that morning. When she was told about the gas smell, her EMT and firefighting training kicked in. She ordered the buses to wait, had all students return to the buses, and then had the buses take students and staff over to the high school. Once at the high school, she had all students line up, as for a fire drill, with each classroom teacher. Since no one knew how long it would take until they could return to the elementary school, Kris O'Brien prepared the gym. Other high school staff came out to assist. A short while later, students were returned to the elementary school by bus, and some walked over.
Only later did they learn there was no gas leak. A CenterPoint Energy crew was south of town, directly upwind of the elementary school. Several times a year, they inject odorant, that rotten-egg smell, into the gas line. It's a safety measure, but they forgot to warn anyone when some of the odorant leaked. The odorant itself has no ill effect. This provided an excellent training opportunity for all. It also pointed out some areas for learning and improvement.
This was a case where everyone lucked out: it was a beautiful fall day, school was already late, there was no actual gas leaked, everyone followed procedures, the buses were already at the school, students were very well behaved and followed instructions, everyone stayed calm, and students got an extra hour "off" Wednesday.