Stagg adds carbon monoxide sensors after Dec. evacuation

  • Written by Tim Hadac

Students, faculty and staff at Stagg High School may breathe a little easier now that carbon monoxide detectors are being installed at the school, 8015 W. 111th St., Palos Hills.
The action is in response to a Dec. 4 incident at the school, in which a strange odor led to a mass evacuation, with about a dozen students and teachers transported to local hospitals as a precaution.
School officials have said they believe that unusual weather conditions on that day caused a high amount of motor vehicle exhaust to be pulled into the building’s fresh-air intake vents.
“School staff have performed air quality checks multiple times per day since the initial incident and have found no issues,” High School District 230 Director of Communications Carla Erdey told The Regional News. “Carbon monoxide sensors are being installed on the fresh-air intakes throughout the school. Three sensors have been installed, and eight more are in process. If these sensors detect an issue, they will shut down the air intakes and notify maintenance staff.”
According to a statement released by the district last month, “emergency first responders determined that there was no hazardous condition in the school building [on Dec. 4] and released the building back to the school district late in the afternoon. This determination was based upon analysis of air quality in the building and thorough checks of the school’s mechanical systems. In addition, Nicor checked the building twice and determined that there was no natural gas leak.
“At the hospital, some students and staff were shown to have had carbon monoxide exposure, according to medical personnel,” the statement continued. “However, first responders determined that there was no evidence that the carbon monoxide was generated from systems within the building and at the time of their response, no carbon monoxide was present in the air in the school building.”
“We tested before school, during school, after school, outside, inside, in spaces near the boiler,” stated district Superintendent James M. Gay at a district meeting late last month. “We had an outside contractor--White Environmental—come in to help.”
The additional steps are expected to be a topic of discussion at tonight’s District 230 meeting, set for 7 p.m. at Sandburg High School, 13300 S. La Grange Road, Orland Park.