Cold weather, old school heaters, prompt Baltimore students complaints to go viral

Baltimore city officials say they’ve resolved heating issues at Western High School that caused students’ complaints on social media about freezing temperatures to go viral.

City schools spokeswoman Edie House-Foster said the North Baltimore school does have heat but, given the building’s old age, the heating structures were “compromised” by recent cold temperatures and high winds. She said the boilers kept shutting on and off. Western High was constructed in 1967, according to a city report.

House-Foster said Thursday that facilities staff had repaired the boilers.

“Staff has walked each floor of the building,” House-Foster wrote in a statement. “Temperatures in classrooms on the three floors have consistently been recorded in the 70’s. We will closely monitor temperatures in the building to ensure satisfactory heating.”

Baltimore comedian Khairy Creek, whose younger sister, Rahjay, is enrolled at Western, tweeted Wednesday morning that the school was without heat.

“ATTENTION: Western High School has been without heat for over 2 weeks. Temperatures in Baltimore city were below 20 degrees this morning and they still required kids to attend classes,” he wrote in his viral tweet. “Some kids even brought blankets to class. This is completely unacceptable.”

On Twitter, people who said they were former Western students said the school has had heating problems for years.

The city’s first “code blue alert” — signifying dangerously cold weather — was issued for Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. School was delayed two hours Thursday because of snowy conditions.

Rahjay Creek said Wednesday that when she gets ready for school, she has to put on two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants and three jackets. The problems persisted for days before the facilities workers made changes, she said.

“Some classes you have to blow your breath on your hands,” Rahjay said.

At least one other city school also experienced heating issues this week. The boilers at Graceland Park/O’Donnell Heights Elementary/Middle School also malfunctioned Wednesday, making some rooms feel extremely cold.

Teachers moved students from the coldest rooms in the building while facilities workers made repairs. House-Foster said the boilers were expected to return to full capacity.

trichman@baltsun.com

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