Parents find chilly temps disconcerting at Chesterfield elementary

Posted at 7:27 PM, Dec 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-11 19:27:03-05

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR)--On Monday a Jacobs Road Elementary in Chesterfield was hit with a power outage. It was a cold day, and without full power the temperature dropped within the school.

The parent of a child at that school is upset that school officials did not cancel classes.

Jaine Moody said she only knew about the power outage, because of a paragraph in a letter and she was upset knowing that "the building is not that well insulated."

"If it was off for several hours, they should have been sent home,” Moody said. "If the power was off for as long as this letter seems to allude by being several hours, I would have picked them up."

Chesterfield school officials said that in such a scenario they work closely with Dominion to determine when power can be restored to a school. They said they had such a discussion with the power company after Monday’s outage, which resulted in the decision to keep kids at school.

"We understood at the time that the power was out and we knew it wouldn't be out that long.  We checked temperatures throughout the building, and they were hovering right at 68 degrees,” Shawn Smith, spokesperson for Chesterfield County Schools, said.

With the winter season upon us CBS 6 wanted to know if other school leaders in our area would ever close a school early due to an outage.

Henrico County said the main concern would be sending kids to an unsupervised home, since many parents work during the day, and Chesterfield echoed that thought.

"It's generally a last resort, the notion of shutting down a school, depending on the circumstance we have,” Smith said.

"There'd be a lot of chaos, people running in out,” said Laura Kovas, who has two kids at Jacob's Road.

She said most kids are resilient and she is okay with how Chesterfield handled the situation.

"I'm a stay at home mom, but there are plenty of people who are working. When they had the situation under control there's no need to freak anyone out,” Kovas said.

Richmond Public Schools looks at each case individually and consider several factors, with student safety and their well-being as the main considerations, Felicia Cosby said.

“Several individuals are involved in the decision-making process, including school administrators and the superintendent,” Cosby said in a written statement. “We work with internal and external  agencies--such as the Department of Public Utilities, Dominion Power, etc.-- to determine the extent of an issue and how quickly it can be resolved.”

Cosby also illustrated the various protocols and steps to be taken if a facility is closed in Richmond.

“If we have to close a facility early, we will work with our Nutrition Services department to ensure students are fed lunch before their departure,” she said.