HEALTH

Parents express concern about sending students back to school after carbon monoxide exposures

Jan 22, 2024, 11:12 PM | Updated: Jan 23, 2024, 6:25 am

CEDAR CITY — Some families at Canyon View Middle School said they haven’t yet decided if they will send their student back to school Wednesday when in-person classes resume.

The school went virtual for two days following multiple reported carbon monoxide exposures on campus last week. Officials said all of the school’s carbon monoxide detectors will be tested while students are at home.

A spokesperson for the Iron County School District said Monday they’re confident there is no carbon monoxide in the building following seven sweeps that resulted in zero traces of harmful gasses.

“We keep getting told it’s a zero reading, but why are people getting sick?” said parent Karissa Eaton.

Her stepson showed symptoms Thursday, the same day a carbon monoxide alarm went off at school.

“We had some concrete being poured in a remodeling area,” said ICSD communication and foundation coordinator Shauna Lund. “That area is adjacent to one of the wings of the school. They were using gas-powered tools.”

Students evacuated

Lund said students were evacuated after the alarms went off and then monitored by EMTs.

“I got a call saying I need to pick up my son because he got tested, the CO finger tester,” Eaton said. “I was like, I didn’t even know you guys were testing him.”

Eaton’s sixth grader had minor symptoms, but she’s kept him home since then.

“We want to wait a few days to see if another kid or kids ends up in the ER,” she said.

According to the district, only one test taken on Thursday detected small amounts of carbon monoxide.

“When the fire department came through about 15 minutes after that alarm going off, they found small levels in a faculty restroom, in a teacher’s office and in one of the classrooms,” Lund said.

But several more tests following that came out at zero.

“It looks great on paper, there’s nothing there, everything’s testing 0, but three days, people have tested for CO poisoning,” Eaton said. “Something’s going on.”

She said something was not adding up for her and several other families. She said she knows several of them who took their children to St. George to be treated in the hyperbaric chamber there multiple times over the weekend. Many of them reported experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning after attending a basketball game at the school.

“Open your eyes, something’s going on,” she said. “We’re not making this up. There’s bloodwork being done.”

Test performed by Utah National Guard

The Utah National Guard most recently tested the school on Sunday and released a report.

“They tested every piece of equipment,” Lund said. “They went up on the rooftop and tested all of the HVAC units, they tested kitchen equipment, they turned on heat in the building.”

A statement from the Guard points to the construction area possibly having a “C-O issue…not at levels that were immediately dangerous to life or health.”

“The construction company is doing an independent investigation to make sure that all the protocols were followed and to see what the issue is,” Lund said.

Eaton said she’d like for tests to be run while construction crews are at work. Until then, she’s not sure when she’s comfortable sending her student back to school.

“It is a huge question mark because we want to trust everyone,” she said.

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Parents express concern about sending students back to school after carbon monoxide exposures