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Cold school pushes students into hallways, cafeteria

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – In the 100-year-old school, a chill is definitely in the air. In fact, Tuesday some Patrick Henry Charter school students had to be rerouted to warmer spots in the building.

School spokesperson Deborah Corliss said school officials took every step they could to make sure students were safe and comfortable, despite freezing weather. When officials realized how cold rooms were Tuesday because of the old drafty windows, they moved students into the hallways and the cafeteria, Corliss said.

“This is a 100-year-old school and the windows need to be replaced. We’ve been phasing in the renovations and after this occurred, we are rethinking our phasing," she said.

CBS 6 News was there Wednesday afternoon when workers insulated the windows. We took the temperature in one classroom to be in the mid-50s. The hallway and the front office were close to 70 degrees.

Patrick Henry isn’t the only school with heating issues.

Richmond School Board member Kim Gray said she received quite a few emails about problems in other schools -- including Southampton, John B. Cary and Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary, a year-old school that as recently as last month was using space heaters.

Richmond schools spokesperson Felicia Cosby confirmed space heaters were used in December before students went out on winter break. As for heating issues at Cary, she said there was a problem in just one classroom and students there were moved to another room.

“If the entire school is without heat, then I’d say stay home, but if there is heat in parts of the building, I feel like you can put them in classrooms together in areas where the heat is,” parent Hikima Gold said.

Gray questioned why a year-old school would need space heaters.

“We can offer our apologies to kids who arrived at a cold school today. We will be looking into it and fighting to make sure we get the capital funding we need to repair these buildings,” Gray said.

CBS 6 News received the following statement from Cosby about the heating issues.

“Richmond Public Schools has been able to continue instruction at all schools during this cold-front with one exception. Processes were put in place to quickly address unforeseen developments resulting from the extreme cold weather, and at no time did any of our facilities experience complete heating system failure.

Yesterday, six out of forty-plus schools reported minor heating issues in a few classrooms. Today, a few classrooms in only three of our schools were impacted due to the extreme weather. While we apologize for any inconvenience endured during this time, we thank our parents, bus drivers, facility services personnel, teachers and building administrators for working collaboratively with us as we've endeavored to continue student learning while ensuring the well-being of our students and staff."


  • parent

    This is really only half the story. In the case of Patrick Henry charter school, the issue is more than the condition of the windows (though that certainly is a primary cause of the interior cold the past two days); it is the fact that the school is operating on an early 20th century boiler system that runs without controls half the year. Not only are students cold during freezing temperatures, they are roasting in milder temperatures when classrooms heat up to the mid- to upper 80s because the heat is running along with fans and A/C units and windows open. the school needs funding for capital costs—something it can’t get from the public school system/city.

  • Glen Allen

    @ Parent – maintenance (repairing, or replacing existing systems) is something that simply is not in Mayor Dwight Jones vocabulary, you see, he cannot put his name on it, and it does not generally make the papers. Ten million dollar football fields and one hundred million baseball stadiums, that’s what it’s all about.

  • troy

    people live in richmond?im sorry I thought they had all moved to Henrico and chesterfield by now.and who’s this jones fellow?

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