Chesterton schools will reopen Monday after employee contracts Legionnaires’ disease

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CHESTERTON, Ind. — Some schools in Northwest Indiana were closed Friday after an employee contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

Westchester Intermediate School in Chesterton, Chesterton Middle School and the Duneland School Corporation Administration Center were closed after an employee self-reported a positive test for Legionnaires’ disease.

Preliminary test results were received that traces of legionella bacteria were in the water system at Chesterton Middle School, and in the cooling system at Westchester Intermediate School.

The Porter County Health Department released the following statement.

“Recently an employee of the Duneland School Corporation was diagnosed with Legionella pneumonia. In search of a source of the bacterial exposure, the school corporation had water testing done. Preliminary results of the testing were released the night of 10/3/19, showing evidence of Legionella bacteria in water samples from the Chesterton Middle School and Westchester Intermediate School. Those schools and the adjacent administration officers were closed today.”

The district says it’s not known if the employee contracted the disease from the school, but it’s “highly unlikely” because the bacteria was found in an area that’s not connected to the drinking fountains.

Still, some students are concerned at the discovery.

“I fill up my water bottle everyday with this school water,” 7th grader Morgan Darnell. “So that’s kind of worrying me.”

Students will have an eLearning day in lieu of attending school Friday. The schools will reopen on Monday.

The district is using chemicals to clean the affected areas to help put students and parents’ minds at ease.

The condition of the staff member who contracted the disease is not known at this time.


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