Tooele High releases students after broken AC causes uncomfortable class temps

Aug 31, 2022, 7:22 PM | Updated: 7:50 pm

TOOELE, Utah —  The Tooele County School District was forced to release all students at Tooele High School Wednesday, after a broken air conditioning system led to classroom temperatures too high to work in.

It’s the second time the district said they’ve faced air conditioning problems at schools this week, amid a heat wave that’s expected to continue for several days.

Kids at Tooele High heard the announcement over the intercom that they had to leave school because it was simply too hot.

Many walked across the street to the park to find shade and hang out, either waiting for parents to pick them up, or until their siblings got out of the junior high and elementary schools, or just passing the time before heading home.

Junior Semisi Brown explained that the classroom temps were so bad, that it was actually a lot cooler to sit outside in the shade.

The 16-year-old and his friends were sweating in class, unable to concentrate. He said his math teacher let everyone leave the room.

“She was just kind of like, ‘It’s really hot in here if you want to go work out in the shade,'” Brown said.

The 2,000 students were stuffed inside the school in sweltering temps after Tooele County School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Ernst said they got an alert Wednesday morning that the AC went out.

“We started monitoring the temperatures, and by 10 o’clock, they were in the high 80s,” Ernst explained. “And we knew that by noon or 1 o’clock, as fast as it was rising, that we wouldn’t be able to keep the kids in that environment.”

Making a decision based on safety, the district called the school day at 10:30 a.m. and sent everyone home. Buses ran early to take the kids back. The maintenance crew got to work, and Ernst described how it was the second time they’ve responded to this kind of situation this week.

“We had West Elementary — one of our elementaries here in Tooele — their AC went out on Monday,” he explained.

In both cases, Ernst indicated, the fixes were fairly quick and the crew was able to find the right parts to get things back up and running. Now, they’re on alert as the heatwave continues.

“We’re actually monitoring all of our schools,” he said.

Ernst added that they’ve asked all principals to report if temps rise in any areas of school buildings.

While the day off was fun for students like Brown, who enjoyed sitting in the park with his friends, it’ll be time to get back to class Thursday.

Superintendent Ernst said even though students were in school for a half day Wednesday, they will not have to make that up. Thanks to the pandemic and online learning, he explained how teachers were quickly able to pivot and post assignments online so that kids didn’t miss a beat.

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Tooele High releases students after broken AC causes uncomfortable class temps