Students at Westward Elementary endured several days in sweltering classrooms while the school district struggled to fix the campus’s failing air conditioner.
Two teachers told The Palm Beach Post that the West Palm Beach school’s air-conditioning system inexplicably shut off around midday several times during the past two weeks, forcing students to suffer hours of discomfort.
“We were sitting here dripping, and the kids were crying and upset,” one teacher said. “It was horrible.”
Unable to open windows, the second teacher said that her class this week was “like a sauna” and that one student reportedly was treated for a heat rash.
“It was stifling in there and hard to breathe,” the second teacher said. “I’m surprised none of my students had asthma attacks.”
Westward Elementary, located off Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and west of Australian Avenue, educates about 600 students.
The school’s parents weren’t alerted to the air-conditioner problems, but some parents asked “why their kids were coming home wet,” the first teacher said.
Principal Bobbie Brooks acknowledged the problems but said the school district replaced a water pump in the air conditioner Thursday and that the system was working better on Friday.
“It’d be on for a while, then off for a while,” he said. “It was definitely warm. It wasn’t the most pleasant situation.”
On Thursday Brooks allowed teachers to leave right after classes ended to escape the heat.
The school’s air conditioner is scheduled for major upgrades in a few months, he said.
He said he hopes the new water pump will keep it working until then.
School district officials did not respond to a request for comment Friday.