The school was evacuated, around 500 students and staff, with 47 people being taken to the hospital for treatment. Those hospitalized were treated for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning such as nausea and headaches before being released.
High carbon monoxide levels at the school were traced to an open valve that was not shut after maintenance workers finished work on a system connected to the boiler. As of this morning, the school was still closed to students and staff while the fire department worked to ventilate the school. It is scheduled to be reopened Dec 11.
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Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by high concentrations of the gas in the air we breathe, and can at first seem very similar to the flu. Many of the symptoms are the same: nausea, headache, aches and pains, and vomiting are signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Fever is not caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, though it is a common symptom of the flu, and carbon monoxide poisoning victims tend to feel better when they are moved to a fresh air environment.
While crews work to get the school ready to reopen, the discussion has begun about carbon monoxide detectors in schools. Currently, only two states have laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in schools – Connecticut and Maryland. The Atlanta Public School system is currently investigating the incident, as well as the possibility of installing carbon monoxide detectors in district schools.