Finch Elem classes to continue at Kennedy Middle after leak - FOX 35 News Orlando

Finch Elementary classes to continue at Kennedy Middle after leak

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Students of Finch Elementary School will continue to attend classes at a different location on Wednesday, according to Atlanta Public Schools officials. Classes were moved to nearby Kennedy Middle School on Tuesday, one day after a carbon monoxide leak sent dozens of students and several staff members to the hospital.

Officials with Atlanta Public Schools say the middle school is actually a perfect location with enough room to house their students and all of the Finch Elementary School students as well.  Students were bussed there because investigators have yet to clear Finch Elementary School as a safe place to resume classes.

Police and fire crews were called to the school Monday morning after students and teachers began getting sick. Dozens of students were taken to Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide exposure, many of them as a precaution.  Another 10 adults were also transported to local hospitals.  

APS said inspectors were back at Finch Elementary on Tuesday looking into the cause of Monday's leak.  

Investigators believe the carbon monoxide leak started in the main furnace in the school.  The building was closed up for the weekend, and officials said it is possible that gas may have built up inside.  APS Superintendent Erroll Davis said investigators suspect the issue started in the boiler, which passed an inspection in 2011 and wasn't due for another one until 2013.

APS officials said they planned to install a temporary boiler on Tuesday night.  An inspector will have to approve the new boiler before classes can resume at Finch.

The Atlanta Fire Department Battalion Chief Todd Edwards told FOX 5's Aungelique Proctor that Monday's incident was the highest level of carbon monoxide detected that he has ever monitored, with that number being 1,700 parts per million.  He pointed out that the highest levels were seen near the main furnace, and that levels inside the classrooms were much lower.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be undetectable without the presence of a carbon monoxide detector.  Georgia Poison Control Center spokesperson Stephanie Hon told FOX 5 that carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous chemicals that humans and animals can come in contact because it is not easily detectible.  Hon said it is considered a silent killer.

Carbon monoxide detectors are not currently required in schools, but APS officials say they are now considering adding them.  State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said Tuesday he will ask the General Assembly to look at the need for mandating that there be carbon monoxide detectors in both schools and nursing homes.

Finch Elementary students will be back at Kennedy Middle on Wednesday, APS officials said. Parents should follow the same plans they took on Tuesday. (CLICK HERE FOR TRANSPORTATION INFO)

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