More than 100 hospitalized after CO incident at South Side school

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - More than 100 students and staff members were hospitalized after high levels of carbon monoxide were detected at a South Side elementary school Thursday morning.

Horace Mann Elementary at 8050 S. Chappel Ave. was evacuated about 8:30 a.m. after carbon monoxide detectors were triggered, according to Fire Media Affairs and a statement from Chicago Public Schools.

Fourteen staff members and 139 students were taken to hospitals for precautionary reasons, authorities said.

The school has 13 carbon monoxide detectors, 12 of which were installed in the last month, according to CPS. Students were moved to the school’s annex after the evacuation, and classes were conducted there for the remainder of the day.

The school will be open Friday, and classes will be held in the annex building, which has space for all of the students, according to the CPS statement.

“CPS appreciates the Fire Department’s precaution and quick action at Mann this morning, as the safety of our students and staff is of the utmost importance to the district,” according to the statement. “We are in contact with parents of affected students, and we will work with the Fire Department to get to the bottom of what happened today.”

School officials communicated with parents throughout the day, providing personal calls to parents whose children were sent to the hospital and robocalls to all families, according to CPS. Also, the school district provided transportation to parents who needed assistance reaching the hospital.

The school’s engineer “took a scheduled day off” Thursday, and a substitute engineer was at the school before students arrived to check a boiler, according to the statement.

The cause of the leak has not yet been determined, officials said. CPS is working with a private contractor to determine the cause and students will not be allowed back inside the school until repairs are made and the building is certified as safe.

More than 30 years ago, over 200 Mann students were hospitalized after a carbon monoxide leak in October 1984, the Sun-Times reported at the time. A teacher and 206 students were sent to 16 hospitals in 12 ambulances and two school buses, but no one was seriously injured.

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