Carbon monoxide detectors not required in schools in Wisconsin

Some schools have them anyway
Posted at 9:38 PM, Apr 17, 2018

Parents are still confused about why dozens of Wisconsin students got sick in March.

Jesse Coates's 13-year-old daughter went to the emergency room after passing out at the Oconomowoc Arts Center in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. She's one of the 200 students who mysteriously got sick at Oconomowoc High School and the Oconomowoc Arts Center in March.

"They were told that it was potentially a CO leak and that's why they were evacuating the building," Coates said.

But the Oconomowoc Area School District said it wasn't carbon monoxide.

"There's just a lot of unanswered questions," Coates said. "You don't want to see it happen again," he said.

Even other school districts have taken notice. After seeing the news, Wauwatosa decided to take action in case they ever do have a real carbon monoxide leak.

Some schools in Wisconsin are installing CO2 detectors, even though they are not required by law.

"It's just one more step we can do to ensure the safety of our students," said Melissa Nettesheim, the manager of building and grounds for Wauwatosa School District.

At about $20 each and less than 10 minutes to install, Nettesheim said the district is putting at least one carbon monoxide detector in each of its buildings.

"All the alarms are in place in case carbon monoxide levels did reach a level that would require us to evacuate the building," Nettesheim said.

She said that's never happened. And that it's a proactive measure not required by law.

Wisconsin state law says "the owner of a residential building shall install a carbon monoxide detector in all of the following places."

All of the listed locations are residential. Nothing in the law talks about schools.

Wisconsin's largest school district, Milwaukee Public Schools, doesn't have carbon monoxide detectors.

Oconomowoc's high school has detectors that "would alarm in the presence of carbon monoxide."

Coates still feels uneasy.

"What caused my daughter and all her friends to get sick?" he wondered out loud. "That's the number one concern from all the parents," Coates said.