For some local students, heating problems at several Montgomery County public schools made for a chilly return from winter break.
An NBC4 reporter on Tuesday tweeted out a photo of a school thermostat displaying a temperature of 48.98 degrees.
A short time later, school system spokesman Derek Turner confirmed the picture’s authenticity to Bethesda Beat and said it was from Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.
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“It’s an old HVAC system, and some really cold temperatures over the last few days have caused some issues,” Turner said.
Over the weekend, the Rockville area saw lows in the single digits, and the Tuesday forecast is for temperatures that stay well below freezing. Turner said Richard Montgomery and other schools have been dealing with overburdened heating systems and sensors that aren’t reading temperatures correctly.
On Wednesday, Turner said maintenance crews had finished a workaround to a glitch that had been preventing the heating system from kicking on at Richard Montgomery. The school building had returned to normal temperatures, he added.
JoAnn Leleck Elementary School at Broad Acres, Flower Hill Elementary and Roscoe Nix Elementary were among the schools dealing with heating problems on Tuesday, Turner said.
On Wednesday, Laytonsville Elementary, Roscoe Nix Elementary, Oakland Terrace Elementary, Dr. Sally K. Ride Elementary, James Hubert Blake High, Cloverly Elementary, Wood Acres Elementary, Twinbrook Elementary, Judith A. Resnik Elementary and Greencastle Elementary schools reported heating problems, he said.
Also on Tuesday, White Oak Middle School reported a pipe leak that flooded part of a classroom, a problem likely related to the frigid weather, he said.
Turner said some principals are moving children as maintenance crews work in the classrooms, and in other cases, students can layer up and continue to use the rooms. The problems are largely related to the advanced age of the heating and cooling systems in schools across MCPS, Turner said, adding that education officials have long pressed for more funding for upgrades.
“There’s not much we can do in the present other than have a good maintenance team that is monitoring these situations,” Turner said.
He said maintenance crews on Tuesday are checking boilers and temperature sensors at school buildings to make sure they’re working properly.
Bethany Rodgers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.