PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Petersburg High School parents and teachers are still complaining of extremely cold classrooms after a heat pump burst earlier this month. Temperatures were so frigid, students were sent home for three weeks of virtual learning until coming back this week.
On Thursday, superintendent Maria Pitre-Martin offered to take 8News through the school. Some parts were chilly while many parts of the school felt sufficiently heated. The superintendent said the problem is that the heat is inconsistent.
“The superintendent’s building is warm, it’s warm in the office, but it’s cold in my son’s classroom,” said parent Hope Berry on Thursday. The mom of two said she went to talk to school administrators about the issue this week.
Fearing they would be cold again on Thursday, Berry kept her two 16-year-old boys home from school on Thursday. “They should be able to be comfortable, relaxed, they’re working, they’re learning, not freezing and trying to stay warm in the classroom,” she said.
Pitre-Martin said Johnson Controls is constantly working on the problem and said the situation is improving.
“We are just so so dismayed and disappointed that this has occurred,” she said.
Pitre Martin said students in chillier rooms are getting moved into warmer ones.
However, Berry said her son was cold in three of four classrooms on Wednesday.
With inconsistent heat, the superintendent said some classrooms will be warm in the morning and lose heat in the afternoon, for example, or one area will get warmer as another area gets colder.
The building is roughly 50 years old and needs critical improvements, according to Pitre-Martin.
“All of our HVAC systems at all of our schools need significant improvement,” she told 8News.
Berry said the district should be keeping students home until the problem is fixed completely while the superintendent stressed the importance of in-person learning.
“We would never have brought our kids back if we did not think these temperatures were manageable for our students, she said.
Pitre-Martin went on to say this is a prime example of what can happen when schools are neglected.