School Closes Early Due to Heating Issues

Students attending the Thomas G. Morton Elementary School in Southwest Philadelphia were dismissed from school early today due to issues with the school's heating system.

The heating problem and 12:30 p.m. early dismissal were announced on the Philadelphia School District's website and twitter account this morning.

In the midst of record cold temperatures, the District has seen heating problems at several of its schools.

This week, as temperatures reached single digits, students attending Thomas Edison High School in North Philadelphia were instructed to stay home on Monday and Tuesday due to flood damage from a bursted pipe in the school's building.

On Tuesday, students were sent home from Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School in North Philadelphia due to low heat issues.

Yesterday, we reported heating problems at Edwin Forrest Elementary School, where parents said their children were shuffled between two buildings and placed in overcrowded classrooms on two of the coldest days the city has seen in decades.

Some teachers took to Twitter today to show just how cold some of the city's school buildings have gotten. One twitter user tweeted a photo of a classroom thermostat hovering at a mere 58-degrees.

According to Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard, the District takes special precautions to avoid problems during extreme weather conditions.

Gallard says the heat in school buildings is turned down in the evening and on weekends to conserve energy, but the District also instructs its building engineers to arrive earlier on mornings when temperatures are extremely low to allow the buildings more time to heat up before students arrive.

As of this morning, the furnace at Forrest Elementary is reported to be working again and students have returned to their usual classrooms. Parents say the building was much warmer this morning.

Gallard said he could not confirm when the heat at the Morton school would be repaired but PSD spokesman Raven Hill said it would likely be fixed in time for students to return to school tomorrow.

"We closed due to a sporadic lack of heat in different sections of the school. Although the entire building is not without heat, we needed to shut the heating system down to fix the problem, which required that we dismiss students early," Hill said. "We anticipate that students will be able to return to school tomorrow."

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