PEI

Scent encounter sends Charlottetown student to hospital

A student at Colonel Gray High School was sent to hospital after having a severe reaction to a scented product last week, the school says.

'They don't necessarily understand the implications with scented products'

A student at Colonel Gray High School in Charlottetown had a severe reaction to fragrance last week. (Laura Meader/CBC)

A student at Colonel Gray High School in Charlottetown was sent to hospital after having a severe reaction to a scented product last week, the school says. 

Someone used a scented spray in a school bathroom and it wafted into the hallway, said the school's principal Dominique Lecours. A student who is highly allergic to fragrance then had trouble breathing. 

"It's very unsettling and this last episode was especially very upsetting for students and staff because it is so serious, and people don't necessarily understand how serious it is until they see it," said Lecours.

The student's reaction required an emergency epinephrine injection from the school's first aid team then a visit to the hospital by ambulance, Lecours said

The student is now fine and is back at school. The same student has experienced milder reactions to scent at the school in the past but none this serious, Lecours said. 

Staff from the Public Schools Branch came to the school Tuesday to reinforce its scent-free policy. The school had previously spoken about it to students at assemblies, sent emails to parents and mentioned the policy at meet-the-teacher nights.

"A lot of students are aware of peanut allergies but they don't necessarily understand the implications with scented products," Lecours said. 

'Honour system'

Creating scent-free spaces is a challenge for schools, said Parker Grimmer, director of the Public Schools Branch. 

'People don't necessarily understand how serious it is until you see it,' says Colonel Gray principal Dominique Lecours. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"I think it's on the rare side but it's increasingly something that we need to be talking about," Grimmer said. 

Students know there's an expectation they wear unscented products, Grimmer said, but sometimes they will use scented products anyway. "It's an honour system," he said. 

Since the incident, school administrators have been talking to students "as close to one on one as possible" to try to solve the problem. Students are now more aware of the scent-free policy and Grimmer believes the school will now be safer. 

With files from Laura Meader

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