Broken air conditioner units sent Yavapai Elementary School’s roughly 750 students home early on their first day back from summer vacation.
Maintenance workers would likely be working into the night to get the school’s air conditioner up and running after it went out at 6:30 Monday morning, said Scottsdale Unified School District spokeswoman Marijke Van Fleet. There is a chance that the units won’t be operating on Tuesday. The district is working on an as yet unannounced contingency plan.
Estimated classroom temperatures were in the 80s, but it felt hotter due to high humidity, Van Fleet said. A more precise temperature reading should be available later today.
Principal Wendy Cohen said the school originally was bringing in fans and water to keep students coot and hydrated. But before noon, Cohen decided to start contacting parents and getting them to pick up students.
“It’s not anything that you’d be in danger of heatstroke, but it is a distraction, so they’re sending kids home,” Van Fleet said.
Any students whose parents couldn’t pick them up would be kept in the library for the rest of the day, which was one of the coolest rooms on the campus, Van Fleet said. People were running out to get portable evaporative coolers and there were also plans to serve lunch in the library.
District officials hope to get the air conditioner working before school tomorrow, but are working on a contingency plan just in case, Van Fleet said.
Yavapai’s air conditioner may have been off for part of the weekend. As part of an energy saving plan, all of the district’s schools and other facilities turned off air conditioners at times the buildings weren’t in use over the summer, Van Fleet said.
Aside from Yavapai, the first day of school has been going smoothly in Scottsdale, Van Fleet said. Police this morning parked a photo-enforcement van outside Cochise Elementary School, 9405 N. 84th St., to raise awareness about slowing down near schools.
Vans will continue to be placed in school zones where police identify problems. The district and the police department jointly produced an online video about the issue. It can be seen at ScottsdaleAZ.gov
School also started in the Mesa and Paradise Valley unified school districts Monday.
“Kids are off to a strong start, everyone’s excited to be back,” said Judi Willis, spokeswoman for the Paradise Valley Unified School District.
Mesa police had little trouble as parents shuttled some children to school and other students took the bus, bicycled or walked.
“Everything seemed to go really smooth today,” said Mesa police spokesman Detective Steve Berry, who flew a police helicopter Monday morning over the city getting an aerial view of the schools.
There were no major traffic issues and the only obstacle came about 7:30 a.m. with a minivan that had engine trouble in the middle of the street in front of Keller Elementary School, 1445 E. Hilton Ave. Berry said buses couldn’t pull in to drop off kids.
The helicopter crew spotted the traffic jam from the air and got patrol officers to help motorists.
Berry advised that as school days continue drivers need to remember to stop for school buses and children in crosswalks.
Tribune writer Christian Richardson contributed to this repor