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Why were elementary school students kept in class without lights and heat

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Posted at 1:41 PM, Jan 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-15 19:28:50-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Students at Overby-Sheppard Elementary School on 1st Street in north Richmond spent about an hour in class Thursday without heat and electricity. Temperatures at that time were in the low 30's.

"The decision to keep students in school was based on many factors. The age of the students was of greatest concern, as we needed to ensure that each
student could be placed in the care of their parent, guardian or other authorized provider," Richmond Schools spokeswoman Cletisha Lovelace said.

The school's Custodial and Facility staff noticed part of the school was without power at about 8:30 a.m., Lovelace said.

Students, who were not in school Wednesday due to icy roads, were on a two-hour delay Thursday.

As students arrived at about 11 a.m., Lovelace said Dominion needed to turn off power to the entire building to repair the line.

Power was restored at about noon.

Student Nevaeh Patterson said that arriving to a darkened, chilly school was "scary" since she and her classmates had no idea what was going on.

"When I went to use the bathroom it was dark in there. So, we had to use flashlights," Nevaeh said.

Several parents reached out to CBS 6, expressing concerns about the situation.

Nevaeh's mother learned about the power outage from CBS 6.

"I was not notified by phone or anything that the lights were out," said Crystal Dowd, Nevaeh's mom.

CBS 6 reached out to Shonda Harris-Muhammad, the school board member who represents this district.

Harris-Muhammad said parents also raised concerns over the way some extension cords were covering the hallways in the school and the potential safety risk to students.

Harris-Muhammad said school officials are looking into those claims.