The Edmonton Public School Board has plans to install carbon monoxide detectors in all its schools and the province is considering making them mandatory across Alberta.
With a few exceptions, Edmonton schools do not have carbon monoxide detectors.
The devices are mandatory in new homes but there are currently no rules regarding schools.
“We’re installing CO detectors in all of our schools,” said Chris Wright with Edmonton Public.
“We’re still finalizing some of those details on the scope and that sort of thing. But that’ll be an installation that we move forward with over the course of this year.”
The issue was pushed into the spotlight after a recent case in Montreal. About 50 students and staff at the school had to be treated for carbon monoxide exposure after the furnace malfunctioned.
Shortly after, the province mandated carbon monoxide detectors in all Quebec schools.
While building codes don’t require them in Alberta, there’s a push to make them mandatory and it appears it’s gaining traction.
“If we’re encouraging the public to have these in all their homes, I don’t understand why they shouldn’t be in schools as well,” said Don Voaklander with the University of Alberta Injury Prevention Centre.
Alberta’s minister of education echoed that sentiment.
“We’re certainly looking at those things,” David Eggen said Monday. “It was a tragic incident that precipitated those changes and we want to be proactive.”
Edmonton’s fire chief also weighed in, saying he thinks carbon monoxide detectors need to be anywhere people gather.
In Calgary, the public school board has installed carbon monoxide detectors in all its schools at a cost of about $4,000 per school. The alarms were paid for by the school board and were installed in August 2017 after a couple of scares in that city, where students were sent to hospital.
Edmonton Public Schools expects to spend between $50,000 and $100,000 to install the detectors.
Edmonton Catholic Schools currently does not have plans to install detectors in all their schools. However, a spokesperson said the district does put them in automotive classrooms and in school portables.
— With files from Fletcher Kent