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Long IslandNassau

Gas odor keeps Baldwin, Oceanside students inside

Schools in Oceanside and Baldwin kept students indoors and closed doors and windows Wednesday morning because of a strong natural-gas odor coming from an offshore barge, school officials said.

A pungent, natural-gas odor swept over schools in both districts at about 10 a.m., causing officials from both districts to "lock in" personnel and students for a little more than an hour.

Superintendent Herb Brown of the Oceanside School District said the fire department officials told his staff of the smell shortly after 10 a.m.

Brown said no illnesses were reported, but two pregnant elementary school teachers went home because of the smell.

Brown said fire department officials told his staff the smell was coming from a barge offshore in Long Beach, "But we never really got a definitive reason" for the smell, he said.

Cristina Schmohl, a spokeswoman from the Baldwin school district, also said the Baldwin Fire Department said it traced the smell to the offshore barge.

Phone calls to both the Oceanside and Baldwin fire departments were not immediately returned.

Baldwin students up to the fifth grade also were kept indoors and windows and doors at all district schools were closed tightly to keep the gas smell from creeping inside, Schmohl said.

Schmohl said no students reported being ill, but two teachers at the Plaza Elementary School on Seaman Avenue said they felt sick because of the odor.

Both school districts sent automatic messages to parents via telephone and email, school officials said.

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