Gloves, jackets and ski caps are not usually Texas classroom attire, but they were must-have layers for some Fort Worth teachers and students during classes Wednesday.
Temperatures across the Metroplex were 10 to 15 degrees, said Jason Dunn, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
“We didn’t set a record at DFW, but it was close,” Dunn said. “It was pretty cold. It was the coldest it has been in seven years.”
Barbara Griffith, spokeswoman for the Fort Worth school district, said officials were addressing temperature concerns throughout the day. Aging school buildings that have older systems in place are part of the problem, she said.
Trustees also acknowledged complaints.
“We are hearing that some of the rooms in South Hills are in the 50s,” said Ann Sutherland, who represents District 6, which includes South Hills High School. “I am hearing that teachers at the other schools are cold too.”
Sutherland said some district buildings were not designed for extreme cold weather, including South Hills High. She said the district needs to spend more money on solving the problem. Sutherland posted her concerns on Facebook.
The district posted a statement on its website that details how cold weather issues were addressed.
“Fort Worth ISD is committed to keeping our students and employees warm and comfortable during this cold weather season. We all realize that the age and condition of some our HVAC equipment will require serious repair or replacement and we are making plans to prioritize that work,” the statement said.
Measures taken by the district include:
▪ Bringing boilers on at 5:30 a.m. and leaving them on until 11:30 p.m. Thursday.
▪ Rooftop heating units are operating 24/7.
▪ Energy specialists are working around the clock to mitigate issues.
▪ Administrators are checking with principals to address issues quickly.
▪ When buildings are not occupied, the temperatures is kept at 68 degrees.
▪ Space heaters are being provided when necessary.
▪ Dress codes were relaxed to allow students to be more comfortable in classrooms.
Other area school districts, including Keller, responded to weather concerns Wednesday as well.
“I believe we’ve had some temperature fluctuations at a few of our buildings, but that tends to come with extreme temperatures. The comfort of our students and staff is a top priority and those issues have been addressed as they have been reported,” said Bryce Nieman, a spokesperson for Keller schools, in an email.
Fort Worth school officials said they also were working to address other cold-related issues.
The district alerted parents to the approaching cold weather on Facebook Tuesday and on Wednesday, schools opened earlier than usual so students could get in out of the cold.