Mystery Substance Affects 25 Students at Florida School


Parents said it was a chaotic scene when they were called to Mandarin Middle School because their children were was reacting to a substance allegedly spread around the schools' cafeteria Friday.

About 25 students at Mandarin Middle School who believed they were exposed to itching powder during their lunch period reported scratching, rashes and welts on their skin, throwing up, even breathing problems.

"It was just total chaos," said Beth Tomory, mother of a sixth-grade student. "When I got there, all the kids were on the floor; all the kids were crying."

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department spokesman John Bracey said that a hazmat team was dispatched to the school about 12:30 p.m. when school officials were told that the powder was spread through the cafeteria. While officials said no powder or any hazardous substance was found, several children reported symptoms.

"I threw up and a couple of my friends, they threw up, they were dizzy, they had trouble breathing," student Isiah Tomroy said.

Video: Hazmat At Mayport Middle School

While JFRD did not take anyone to the hospital, some students were given baking soda rubdowns. Channel 4's Hailey Winslow said several parents took their child to either the doctor or hospital.

Spokeswoman Jill Johnson said no itching powder or any other foreign substance was found. The hazmat team was still at the school at 4:30 p.m. investigating.

Six weeks ago, a hoax bomb created a stir at the same campus.

In the Dec. 2 incident, a JFRD spokesman said the word "bomb" was written on the package leaking a green fluid that was found near the bleachers on the football field about 45 minutes after school was dismissed.

About 250 students and staff who were at the school in the 2600 block of Mayport Road for after-school activities were moved to the gym, and evening activities at the school were canceled.

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