Woodson Students Back in Class After Chem Lab Fire

Students at a Fairfax County high school are back in class for the first time since a fire in the chemistry lab injured six people. 

W.T. Woodson High School opened its doors Wednesday morning after a scheduled 4-day weekend. Students spent part of their day signing large posters for the two students who were airlifted from Friday's fire.

Earlier this week, the female student's family told News4 she is doing well, but has serious burns on her arm. She remains hospitalized. The second injured student is back home, but his mother says he will continue to receive treatment at the burn center. 

Wednesday, those two students were on the minds of everyone in the Woodson family.

"Praying for them to be good and well as soon as possible," said Adel Taher, a junior at the school.

Three other students had less serious, non-life-threatening injuries. They were taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital and released Friday afternoon.

Over the weekend, the classroom where the explosion happened was repaired, but students who were in the chemistry class will meet in a different room.

"Out of respect for the feelings of students who were in the class at the time of the fire, we have made arrangements for 7th period chemistry in K105 to meet K101 for the remainder of the year," Principal Scott Poole said during the morning announcements.

Poole said both teachers who were in the classroom at the time of the fire are recovering at home. 

"One was slightly injured and is okay," Poole added. 

The fire occurred as one of the teacher was conducting a demonstration for students about the different colors of fire, Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers said.

An exercise often known as "the rainbow experiment" has previously left students in other states 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.

It's not clear whether the Fairfax teacher was performing this particular experiment.

John Torre, a spokesman for Fairfax County Public Schools, said he could not comment on what experiment was being done. 

"We aren't going to be able to respond to any specific questions about the accident at this time," Torre said.

The investigation into the accident is still pending

On Monday, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) suspended the use of open flames in science classes, said Superintendent Karen Garza.

Federal investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are also looking into the fire. 

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