Fairfax County Public Schools Suspends Use of Open Flames in Science Classes After Chemistry Fire

Fairfax County Public Schools suspended the use of open flames in science classes following a serious accident at W.T. Woodson High School Friday morning, according to the superintendent.

One of the students seriously burned in a chemistry class fire will be heading into surgery next week. Two of five injured students were airlifted to the hospital. The three students with less serious injuries were treated and released. One of the students who was airlifted also has been released, a Medstar Washington Hospital Center spokesperson said Monday morning.

The teacher, who performed an experiment demonstrating the different colors of flames, also was hurt but was treated at the school and not taken to a hospital.

Superintendent Dr. Karen Garza also ordered a review of science curriculum, a review of safety guidance for science teachers and science safety updates for all high school science teachers by the end of the semester.

An exercise often known as "the rainbow experiment" has previously left students with serious injuries and should not be performed in classrooms, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and the American Chemical Society. The experiment shows how various mineral salts produce flames in different colors when mixed with highly flammable methanol.

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