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5 Baltimore schools closed because of water, heat problems Tuesday

Problems with water and heat forced five Baltimore schools to close Tuesday as temperatures hovered below freezing most of the morning and early afternoon.

Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy, City Springs Elementary School’s Early Learning Center and Furley Elementary School, which dismissed at 1 p.m., were closed because of water-related problems, Edie House-Foster, a spokeswoman for Baltimore City Public Schools, said in an email.

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Two more schools, Furman Templeton Preparatory Academy and Reach Partnership School, were closed for issues with both heat and water, she said.

House-Foster said it was unclear when the schools would reopen.

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Extreme cold temperatures from early Tuesday are expected to give way to warmer weather.
The lack of air conditioning in Baltimore schools is far from the only facilities problem facing the district with many of the oldest buildings in the state. There are leaking roofs, rusted pipes, cracking steps and broken elevators — all piling up in a $3 billion backlog.

Tuesday’s closures came a year after Baltimore City Public Schools faced a heating crisis that left students huddled in frigid classrooms and revealed crumbling infrastructure across the school system. Burst pipes and broken boilers led to widespread school closures as city schools stared down a nearly $3 billion backlog of maintenance work.

At the start of the 2018-2019 academic year, the school system spent millions to install temperature sensors that would alert district officials if classrooms got too cold. The school system also beefed up its staff of engineers to improve response times to infrastructure problems.

It’s likely school infrastructure will get a reprieve as temperatures rise later in the week. Tuesday’s extreme cold was expected to give way to warmer — albeit, wetter — weather Wednesday and Thursday.

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