Faulty air conditioning, heat prompts East Lake Elementary to close early Monday

Faulty air conditioning, heat prompts East Lake Elementary to close early Monday

School to follow regular schedule Tuesday

August 19th, 2019 by Meghan Mangrum in Breaking News

This story was updated at 4:33 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 19, with more information.

East Lake Elementary students were dismissed early on Monday due to malfunctioning air conditioning equipment, but Hamilton County Schools say the problem has been resolved.

The school, which normally dismisses at 2:55 p.m., began dismissal at 1:15 p.m. Monday. Buses began taking students home early, and parents were able to pick up car riders early.

The district closed the school early as a precaution due to high temperatures — and a heat index of 100 — across Chattanooga Monday, according to a press release from the district.  

"Our top priority in Hamilton County Schools is the safety of the children in our care. Staff will remain at the school until all children have been picked up this afternoon," said Tim Hensley, spokesman for the district, in a press release. 

Additional fans were delivered to the school to assist in cooling the building earlier in the day, Hensley said. Despite early dismissal, many students and teachers remained until usual dismissal time, due to the sudden notice to parents that school would close early.

Hensley said the district has not had widespread problems handling the heat in recent weeks, but not all schools in Hamilton County have central air conditioning. 

In addition to older HVAC units in many of the district's aging buildings, a few older schools use individual room units for heating and cooling. The district has had "isolated issues so far" this school year, Hensley told the Times Free Press Monday. 

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757- 6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.