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Students are scheduled to return to the school that has regularly been engulfed in tear gas during frequent protests.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - The Cottonwood School is right next to the ICE facility in South Portland. A school located next to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's facility in South Portland is calling for the end of the use of chemical weapons on protesters.

"We're really concerned with chemical munitions," said Amanda McAdoo, the director of the Cottonwood School, at 0640 S.W. Bancroft St.

She said the school yard has been enveloped in tear gas clouds during recent protests against the federal agency known as ICE.

"We need them to stop using chemical weapons in front of our school," she said.

Students are not currently in class, but they are scheduled to return sometime in March. The school now needs to mitigate the soil in the play yard before they return.

"People care about kids," McAdoo said. "We're hoping people see this and it can't happen in front of a public school in Portland."

Juniper Simonis, an independent researcher with a doctorate from Cornell in ecology and evolutionary biology, has been helping the school collect samples from the yard. They have collected metal grenades, soil samples and a Triple-Chaser — a type of gas canister that separates upon deployment to further spread gas — that was melted onto the roof.

Simonis said it was a fire hazard.

McAdoo said the school already has plenty to worry about with the pandemic going on. "We are worried, as we are actively trying to get our kids back in school buildings, this is yet another hurdle we have to face before we can."

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.

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