Craig County Students Sent Home Again Because of No AC

Craig Co.,VA - For the second day in a row, students in Craig County were sent home from school early because of the heat. Most of the high school in that district has no air conditioning, and with temperatures nearing 90 degrees, officials aren't taking chances.

Craig County High School is 25 years old and has never had air conditioning. But that is a problem leaders in that county are working to correct.

Craig County school district leaders did not want to take any chances with the 700 member student body, so they were sent home at 12:30p.m. Thursday to avoid the late summer heat that has left the students and faculty sweating about more than getting good grades.

"When we got a full load of kids in a class with the lights on we're hitting 90-degrees in the classroom in the afternoon and it's just not a good environment for our kids and it's not safe either," says Kelly Wilmore, the district superintendent

While the middle school does have AC, as does most of the elementary school, the high school is a different story. There seems to be just as many fans as there are books.

"It's a very disruptive way to try and educate kids..." says Melissa Eckstein, an English teacher

Eckstein does her best, as do all the teachers, with the hand she's been dealt, using the heat as a crutch to get into her daily study plan.

"We try and do things and try to make it funny, you know. We used similes yesterday.It's as hot as a... so we started talking about firecrackers and you know, things that are hot. So we try to engage with the current circumstances but even then the kids are melting," says Eckstein.

While it helps to get by using humor, the real concern is keeping the kids hydrated and focused on what they are there to do in the first place. Fortunately the district has been tapped to receive a $5.4 million interest free state loan from the state to address that problem and more. A change that should be in place by next year.

"It's a big deal for our county. It's something great for our kids. We definitely have to do something. This is just too much for our kids," says Wilmore

That loan still needs approval from the county Board of Supervisors. They also have to figure out how to pay the loan back. Right now the plan is a small increase in property taxes, an issue that will be taken up later this fall.