Samohi held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Discovery building in April. (Madeleine Pauker)

Construction workers severed a gas line at Santa Monica High School Thursday, forcing students to evacuate the pool building.

Contractors working on the Discovery building severed a gas line in the science quad Thursday morning, the first day of school for all Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District students. The main gas feed to the campus was quickly turned off, said Carey Upton, the district’s chief operations officer.

Maintenance staff began repairing the gas line around 3 p.m., Upton said. They bled the line of air, which allowed some natural gas to escape, and restarted the boiler for the swimming pool.

Upton said several students on the boys’ water polo team began to cough as they practiced in the pool building. The team’s coach cleared the pool and evacuated all students out of the building.

“Some of the students complained they were not feeling well and reported smelling natural gas,” Upton wrote in an email sent to parents Thursday night. “Parents were called and 11 students sought medical attention. As of this writing all have been cleared, except for one student.”

The Santa Monica Fire Department was called and investigated the building and maintenance staff checked all systems, he said.

“The health and safety of our students and staff continue to be our top priorities,” Upton said. “In an abundance of caution, we are having the pool and its systems tested by specialized pool technicians prior to reopening.”

The Discovery building, which is scheduled to open by the end of 2021, will house 38 classrooms for the school’s M and O houses, including science and computer labs, three multipurpose rooms, common areas and seminar rooms. The building will also be home to a full-service kitchen and cafeteria, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a suite for medically fragile students and a rooftop garden classroom. 288 parking spaces will be incorporated into the three-story, 280,000 square-foot complex.

Voters approved Measure ES in 2012 to fund the Discovery building and other facilities improvements with $385 million. Construction began in April.

madeleine@smdp.com

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