- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

DALLAS (AP) - Several Dallas school trustees are calling for the installation of carbon monoxide detectors districtwide after high levels of the poisonous gas prompted the evacuation of an elementary school.

The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/1EPcHma ) reports a school nurse raised concerns earlier this week about the air quality in Lakewood Elementary, after two teachers and over a dozen students reported having headaches, dizziness and stomachaches. Two staff members were taken to the hospital.

The school evacuated its more than 800 students and its staff Tuesday when a contractor noticed high levels of carbon monoxide. The problem was traced to a furnace in the basement. Authorities later discovered a dead owl was clogging the ventilation system.

Gas indicators fell to acceptable levels Wednesday morning, but remnants of the gas were present once a boiler was restarted. The school closed again Wednesday amid safety concerns.

Some parents reported that the condition of their children improved once they left school. How well staff members are doing is unknown at this time.

Trustees say that they would support buying carbon monoxide detectors for all of the Dallas Independent School District’s 223 schools, which would cost about $7 million based on estimates. If approved, that would make the district the largest, and perhaps the only one in the state, to have detectors installed in all schools.

“It is absolutely essential that our students and staff have a safe learning environment,” trustee Dan Micciche said.

The Dad’s Club at Lakewood Elementary has decided not to wait for the district to take action. The five-member club voted Tuesday to purchase detectors for every classroom and common area at the school. Chris Prestidge, who is the vice president of the club, said that they hope to install them Thursday.

“We weren’t going to take no for an answer,” Prestridge said. “There are a lot of parents with a lot of concerns. We are trying to protect staff and students but also provide peace of mind.”

Two states, Connecticut and Maryland, require that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all schools.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 430 people die each year in the United States because of carbon monoxide.

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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