In October 2017, emergency crews responded to carbon monoxide poisoning at the Co-op liquor store in Red Deer’s Timberlands subdivision. (File photo by Advocate staff).

Red Deer Public Schools prices carbon monoxide detectors

Alberta Education considering detectors

Red Deer Public Schools examining carbon monoxide detectors

Red Deer Public Schools is checking the price of carbon monoxide detectors.

Earlier this month, at least 43 people at a Montreal elementary school were sent to hospital following carbon monoxide exposure due to a defective heating system. The Quebec government has since made carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in schools.

Bruce Buruma, director of community relations, said he was unaware of any past carbon monoxide problems at Red Deer Public, but the situation at the Quebec school raised awareness.

“I would hope we’d have them in by the end of the school year,” Buruma said.

He said the district’s infrastructure maintenance renewal funding from the province could help fund the detectors. But it will be a major project across the district and there are a lot of priorities competing for those dollars.

“If the government does come forward with resources and supports, that would be helpful. It’s one of those things that’s a safety issue. It’s a priority and we have to get it done.”

Kurt Sacher, superintendent at Chinook’s Edge School Division, said carbon monoxide detectors will be raised at the next school board meeting.

He said typically the jurisdiction takes its direction from Alberta Infrastructure that sets a high safety standard that Chinook’s Edge does meet.

“To our knowledge there’s not been any change from an Alberta Infrastructure point of view. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t go above and beyond after we’ve given it careful consideration.”

It wouldn’t be as simple as plugging a detector into a socket, he said.

In a statement, Alberta Education said it was considering the option of detectors.

“Schools are designed to have constant ventilation in the building when they are occupied. School divisions may include carbon monoxide detectors if they choose and are in the best position to provide the most up-to-date information on the use carbon monoxide detectors testing in their schools.

“When it comes to funding, our government provides infrastructure maintenance and renewal funding to school divisions, as locally elected school boards are in the best position to make decisions that support student health and safety in their local context.”

The 2018 provincial budget included over $188 million in infrastructure maintenance funding.

Superintendent Paul Mason, of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, said in a statement that the division’s top priority is to provide safe learning environments for students and staff.

“While we do not have carbon monoxide detectors in our schools, our air handling units operate during the day bringing outside air inside the classrooms three to four times an hour,” Mason said.

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