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25 children transported to hospital after student uses pepper spray at Jersey City school

JERSEY CITY -- More than two dozen children are recovering, after spending hours at a local hospital following an incident where a student used pepper spray on her classmates here on Wednesday.

All 700 children at Whitney Young School, a pre-K through 8th grade school, were evacuated. In all, 45 people were affected, according to Jersey City fire officials. They said that 25 children were transported to the hospital with complaints of burning eyes, chests and cheeks.

Emergency responders said that an 8-year-old student in a third grade class sprayed the substance while the class was in the gym.

They believe the girl was just curious about how to use the pepper spray device, as if it was a toy. It had been given to her by a parent, according to police.

"She really didn't know how to use it," said Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly. "The device wasn't pointed at anyone, there was no intent to cause any harm here, and it was a very, very innocent thing with a device that's readily available over the counter."

The incident happened around 10:40 a.m. Hazmat teams did air monitoring tests and surface monitoring tests, and deemed the school safe, around 1 p.m. Classes went back into session.

Police officials said they're considering charges against the girl's parents.

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