Legionella bacteria prompts closures at NW Indiana schools

Two northwest Indiana schools were closed Friday after a district employee contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

Traces of legionella bacteria were found in the hot water system at Chesterton Middle School and a cooling tower at Westchester Middle School in Chesterton, Indiana, according to a statement from the Duneland School Corporation. Both schools and the district’s administration building were closed on Friday.

The schools were tested after a district employee self-reported a positive test for Legionnaire’s disease, district officials said. Officials said they have “no reason to believe the disease was contracted as a result of exposure to any water system within the [district].”

The Porter County Health Department has been notified and the district is “working with an environmental company to immediately abate any environmental hazard to ensure the safety of students and staff,” according to the statement.

Chesterton Middle School and Westchester Intermediate School had an “eLearning Day” on Friday, with teachers posting assignments online for students to complete by Tuesday, officials said.

All other Duneland School Corporation schools remained open and in session Friday, the district said.

Precautionary steps to clear the affected buildings should be completed by Sunday evening and classes are expected to resume on Monday, according to the district.