School district installs detectors after gas leak

SANDY, Utah (AP) — A gas leak at a Utah elementary school that sickened more than 40 people has prompted a school district in the Salt Lake Valley to install carbon monoxide detectors in its schools.

The Canyons School District announced plans to install the detectors in all of its buildings after Monday’s leak at Montezuma Creek Elementary sparked concerns about the fact that Utah is among many states that do not require schools to have such monitors.

The community of Montezuma Creek is on the Navajo reservation, about 15 miles from the Colorado border, while the Canyons district covers an area with about 33,000 students and 40 schools around the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy.

The Canyons district issued a statement Thursday noting it was not required by law to install the carbon monoxide monitors. It will cost the district about $1,200 to do so.

The incident at Montezuma Creek Elementary “definitely brought a lot of awareness to the hazards of carbon monoxide in our schools,” said Kevin Ray, the district’s risk management coordinator. “As a district, we want to be proactive and do everything that we can to address the issue.”

More than 30 students and staff at the school were taken by ambulance to Utah medical facilities, and a third-grade student and two women were airlifted to Colorado hospitals for treatment. They’re all expected to recover.

Crews in the Canyons district planned to install the detectors before classes resume Monday, officials said.

The devices will be placed in areas such as boiler and mechanical rooms, which have natural gas-burning equipment. They also will be installed in all schools, the administration building, the support services center, the bus depot and the warehouse.

State law requires the monitors only in some residences and institutional buildings where people sleep, such as jails, hospitals and nursing homes.

Utah Fire Marshal Coy Porter has said his office likely will make a recommendation on carbon monoxide detectors in schools in coming weeks.

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