ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A ninth-grader says she has frostbite after standing outside for 10 minutes in a wet bathing suit during a fire alarm.
It happened around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Como Park High School in St. Paul. Fourteen-year-old Kayona Hagen-Tietz says she was in the school’s pool when the fire alarm went off.
While other students had gotten out earlier and were able to put on dry clothes, Hagen-Tietz said she was rushed out with just her towel.
On Wednesday morning, the temperature was 5 below, and the wind chill was 25 below.
“So the alarm went off, and I thought it was like just a drill, like: Do I have to go outside?” Hagen-Tietz said. “And then he was like no, we usually don’t have fake ones in the winter.”
Hagen-Tietz says she and the another student were rushed out by the teacher. Her classmate had clothes by the pool, hers were in her locker. So she grabber her towel and went outside.
“As soon as they’d seen her outside in her swimsuit, soaking wet and barefoot, they should have done something,” said Eva Tietz, Hagen-Tietz’s mother.
A teacher eventually gave Hagen-Tietz a jacket, and one of her friends gave her a sweatshirt to wrap around her feet.
But due to school policy, she wasn’t allowed to sit in a faculty-member’s car.
“We kind of huddled up and made a circle around me, and the other kids who were cold,” Hagen-Tietz said.
Eventually, a teacher did get permission to allow Hagen-Tietz and her classmate to sit inside her car.
But by that time Hagen-Tietz had already stood barefoot and wet for 10 minutes in some of the coldest conditions of the year.
Hagen-Tietz mom then picked her up and took her to the doctor, who determined she has frostbite on her feet.
“If I had a fire and brought my children out in that condition, you know, I’m sure I would be charged in some way or another if I didn’t instantly bring them into a neighbor’s house or someplace else,” Tietz said. “The ultimate goal is to keep them safe and protect your children, and, in this instance, they did a really poor job.”
In a statement, St. Paul Public School officials said they continue to work with the St. Paul Fire Marshal to regularly review these procedures, including cold weather modifications, and they will make any changes based on their recommendations.
Hagen-Tietz said the first half of her pool class is water aerobics, and the last half is free time. She said some of the kids cut out of free time early to get dressed. Hagen-Tietz stayed in the pool to use the diving board, because it only takes her about 10 minutes to get dressed.