Drexel installs more carbon monoxide detectors, students return - WSMV News 4

Drexel installs more carbon monoxide detectors, students return

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Hundreds of students at a north Nashville charter school returned to class Thursday for the first time since dozens of them got sick from carbon monoxide poisoning earlier this week.

Officials at Drexel Prep Academy, located at 4481 Jackson Rd., said Monday the school's heating system malfunctioned, leaking fumes into the building and sending more than 40 students to the hospital.

The Channel 4 I-Team discovered there are no carbon monoxide detectors at any school in Metro Nashville Public Schools, because Tennessee state law doesn't require them.

However, after what happened at her school, Drexel's principal says that should change and it has led to a number of new additions in her classrooms.

Children and teachers at Drexel will now hear an alarm in their rooms should there ever be another carbon monoxide leak at their school.

"OSHA came in. They checked the levels, but our all-clear came from the Tennessee Health Department," said Drexel Principal Dr. Cheryl Bowman.

Before Monday, Drexel had carbon monoxide detectors, but they were not located in the classrooms where the children got sick. Those alarms sounded, but it wasn't until hours after the school had already been evacuated when officials originally believed the students were sick with the flu.

More than 40 students were admitted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning, where they spent the next 23 hours hooked up to oxygen tanks as a precaution.

"Accidents do happen, but we do feel we are prepared in the event that this or something different happens," Bowman said.

The principal also said Drexel has since used its own money to install 15 new detectors throughout the school, and the broken heating unit has been replaced.

An open house is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the school, during which parents can get a chance to see the new changes for themselves.

As for other Metro schools, a spokesperson told the Channel 4 I-Team they use monitors to do random carbon monoxide checks at their schools, and school heating units are inspected annually.

But it remains to be seen whether or not Metro will install carbon monoxide detectors in each of its schools. School leaders said they will discuss the issue.

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