Some Davis County students return to school with broken air conditioning

Aug 17, 2023, 6:57 PM

WEST POINT, Utah — Students and staff at Lakeside Elementary School started the school year with a broken air conditioning system.

Davis School District spokesperson Chris Williams said crews discovered the air conditioning wasn’t working on August 7.

“The circuit board was fried,” he said. “Unfortunately, a circuit board is not something you pick up down at Home Depot or Lowe’s. It’s a circuit board that costs $21,000 so we had to order it out.”

The repair parts aren’t expected to arrive until mid-September.

Until then, the district is improvising with swamp coolers, portable air conditioning units, and fans stationed around the school. Williams said there’s one in each classroom.

Back to school, keeping kids cool at recess

“Every three hours, as far as these AC or swamp units go, the head custodian is changing out all the water,” he said.

The school’s fans are programmed to turn on at 3 a.m. every day to bring in cooler air. Students were also given handheld fans on the first day of school.

“It is a little not as cool, but we’re doing the best job that we can,” Williams said. “A lot of students are wearing shorts, t-shirts. We’re giving out water bottles, popsicles.”

He said the school can monitor the temperature in each room of the building.

“The health department has standards by which we follow if it gets too hot in a school, or if it’s too hot outside, we bring students in,” Williams said. “We watch those.”

The Davis County Health Department told KSL they reached out to the school district about Lakeside’s AC issues to understand the district’s plan but haven’t heard back.

A spokesperson for the department said, under Utah law, (Utah Administrative Code. R392-200 Sanitation and Safety of Schools,) the recommended temperature range for buildings is between 68-74 degrees Fahrenheit.  Exceptions are made for cases of extreme heat and extreme cold.

Williams said teachers are watching students for signs of overheating.

“Teachers are very cognizant of, we need to watch kids if they’re saying, ‘I don’t feel good,’ they do what they can,” he said.

Williams said there are other schools in the district dealing with air conditioning issues.

“We do have a junior high school, at Sunset, similar situation,” he said. “They don’t have AC in their building. We’re building a new junior high school right now. That new building will open up in two years. They’ve unfortunately grown accustomed to not having AC. Swamp coolers is the thing at that school, but that school is being replaced.”

He said there are also a few classrooms at Whitesides Elementary School that the principal described as “hot.”

“She’s contacted the district and she knows crews are working on those,” Williams said.

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Some Davis County students return to school with broken air conditioning