Marshall County cancels Middle School Night after heat illnesses

File Photo by Shawn Rine Heat radiating from the new artificial turf at Monarch Stadium in Moundsville is being blamed for heat-related illness that sent 37 middle and high school band students to local hospitals Thursday after they had been practicing on the field.

MOUNDSVILLE — Marshall County Schools has cancelled “Middle School Night” planned tonight during halftime at the John Marshall High School football game the day after 37 band students were hospitalized for heat-related illnesses.

District Communications Coordinator Tony Wood said this afternoon that the show will not go on as planned. Middle school band students from Sherrard and Moundsville had been scheduled to perform with John Marshall students during the high school’s home game against Preston.

On Thursday morning, between 125-130 middle and high school students were practicing for the performance at Monarch Stadium. The air temperature at the time was in the mid 80s and the humidity was high, too. Although the district has done the same practice for more than 30 years, this was the first year it practiced on the new artificial turf that was installed during the summer amid stadium renovations.

District officials believe that turf — which is made of synthetic materials, including rubber and plastic — increased the temperature on the field by at least 20 degrees. Students began to feel light-headed and had other heat-related symptoms. Although water was available at the stadium, district officials said it was limited at the time. Emergency officials from 10 agencies used 16 ambulances to transport the students to three hospitals. One student was kept overnight for observation, while the other 36 were treated and released.

The district was expected to make a statement later this afternoon about discussions it had in the wake of Thursday’s event. Officials did not say if the Middle School Night will be rescheduled.

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