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Students return to Finch Elementary School Friday after carbon monoxide scare

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Kids return to Finch Elementary Kids return to Finch Elementary
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Students returned to Finch Elementary School Friday after a carbon monoxide leak on Monday sent nearly 50 people to local hospitals.

"She's nervous," said Chiketa Snipes of her fourth-grade daughter. "I'm nervous too."

"A lot of parents are angry, cursing and going on," Snipes said. "Just look at the good outcome about it, you know. Nobody was seriously injured."

"We were a little apprehensive about coming back today," said Marlon Dell after he dropped off his nephew. "However, I fell like because it was such a big deal that I know the Atlanta Public School system got together and did what they need to do as far as fixing the problem, correcting the problem."

"We have an abundance of carbon monoxide detectors in this building," said Steve Smith, Associate Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. "So parents should feel very safe that their students are safe in the facility."

Also, a temporary boiler has replaced the one that led to the extremely dangerous buildup of the odorless gas.

For 3 1/2 days this week, students reported to a nearby middle school as the school district looked into what caused the problem. Atlanta Public Schools has a counseling team on hand to assist students with the transition back to Finch.

Superintendent Erroll Davis said in a news conference Thursday that human error is believed to be to blame for the carbon monoxide leak.

"It's become apparent that equipment in the school was serviced on Friday prior to the Monday incident. This now has led us down a new path of investigation," said Davis.

The cause of the leak was a technician failing to reopen a valve, school officials said.

"The boiler, because of the maintenance that was performed, operated under stress in a condition under which it is not designed to operate for 48 hours," said Davis.

Meanwhile, Davis said APS has launched a full investigation into why the employees believed to be responsible did not come forward with information about their maintenance on the boiler.

"To say that I'm disappointed in this behavior would be an understatement," said Davis.

APS removed the school's old boiler and on Thursday, inspectors with the state and Atlanta Fire Department were at Finch Elementary School to monitor the installation and inspect a temporary boiler.

The district plans to replace it during the Christmas break with a new one at a cost of approximately $52,000.

Officials with the fire department were at the school to monitor the air quality Thursday while the temporary boiler ran during normal operating conditions.

Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

sidebar: Gainesville installs carbon monoxide detectors in schools

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The carbon monoxide poisoning at Finch Elementary has forced other area school districts to rethink how to protect their students and teachers. Read story

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