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Fainting causes southwest Atlanta elementary school evacuation

A gas leak at a southwest Atlanta elementary school Monday morning left dozens of students sick. Two adults remain hospitalized tonight.

At about 8:30 this morning, Atlanta Fire began receiving reports of several adults and children unconscious at Finch Elementary. The school, built in 2004, had no carbon monoxide detectors in place. Firemen soon found extremely dangerous levels of carbon monoxide found near the school's furnace. The levels measured at 1,700 parts per million, one of the highest Atlanta Fire has ever seen.

Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Erroll Davis commended Finch Elementary's principal, Carol Evans, for her swift response and for getting the children out of danger quickly. However, communication with the parents needed work. "In all emergency situations, one of the things you find is that the calling trees are not up to date,” he said. “We had a safe place to take the students, but we have to work on a convening place for parents.”

State inspectors and HVAC technicians, who suspect the problem began with the boiler, are ensuring that the leak is sealed before they give clearance for children to return to school. As on now, school is planned to be in session tomorrow morning. If Finch is not cleared for occupancy, other Atlanta Public School buildings may be used until it is cleared, such as Archer High School.

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