Elementary Students Sweltering in Hot Classrooms

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Knoxville (WVLT) - Some faulty air conditioning units in one Knox County elementary school left about 20 students stuck in a classroom in nearly 90-degree temperatures Monday.

Volunteer TV’s Kim Bedford walked through the Green Magnet Math and Science Building to see just how hot the classrooms are. One of the classrooms was actually up to 88 degrees before noon Monday.

We notified the Knox County school spokesman and he tells WVLT they're waiting on the right parts to come in to fix two different over-heated classrooms.

"We have a couple of classrooms that may have gotten as hot as 80 degrees or a little higher than 80 degrees, so it's a challenge,” says Jacquelyn Bragg, Green Magnet principal.

One of them is Miss Wilkerson's room. She's trying to teach kindergartners in almost 80 degree temperatures.

"They're real troopers. They come in with lessons well-planned and they go forward with instruction in spite of the heat,” Bragg says.

"It's pretty hot. It's humid in there. So I came and got her out a little early,” Charlotte May didn't want to take any chances, she picked up her five year old around 12:30 p.m.

"I think they should let them out, really when it gets that hot," May says. "They get fidgety and go outside and sweat and stuff like that."

You can bet about 20 fifth graders were sweating more than the kindergartners, they were out to lunch when we checked their room, but the thermometer read 88 degrees before noon.

"Maintenance says that the temperature should not exceed 80 degrees,” says Knox County Schools spokesman Russ Oaks.

"If it were up to me, we would probably go ahead and come in at the regular time and leave shortly after the hottest part of the day,” says Bragg.

But sending kids home early isn't up to Principal Jacquelyn Bragg, that's the superintendent's call.

"Two classrooms is not something I think the superintendent would consider sending students home for, especially when we haven't looked at other options within the building,” Oaks says.

Bragg says several teachers have made it clear that their radiators are not doing the job.

"I have about 20 work orders, but they're probably from about five different people. So they're repeated people saying again and again, my room is still a little warm, could you do something about it,” Bragg says.

Bragg says she's turned the orders into maintenance, but they're still not all fixed. "What I've been told is there's only so much you can do when the outside temperature is above 90 degrees."

Oaks says that's not true, "If a piece of equipment is broken, a piece of equipment can be fixed, regardless of what the temperature is."

Russ Oaks tells WVLT he's not sure how long it will take for the new A/C parts to come in.

In the meantime, Bragg says if they need to, they'll try to move some of the sweltering classrooms somewhere else.


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