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Poway Unified School District forced to send students home early due to AC issues

In an email to parents, the district says that after installing a new chiller, it could not handle the load of providing air conditioning.

SAN DIEGO — Wednesday marked the 8th day in a row of the California’s Flex Alert. 

The state’s grid operator reported the power grid peak demand hit a new all-time record on Tuesday.

The alerts have triggered businesses, government buildings and even school districts to close early.

Three different schools in Poway Unified School District were forced to release students’ early for the second week in a row, after continuous problems with their air conditioning units. Impacting not just students and teachers, but also parents.

Rancho Bernardo High School, Bernardo Heights Middle School and Midland Elementary are sending students home early for the remainder of this week.

In an email to parents the district says that after installing a new chiller, it could not handle the load of providing air conditioning for both Rancho Bernardo High School and Bernardo Heights Middle school. 

The issues led the district to reimplement early release days.

Laura Seukpanya is a parent who works as a nurse, she says the changes have made it difficult to pick up her children.

"It's still very difficult, my husband works nights and he has to wake up in the middle of his sleep time to come pick up the kids, go back home, so he’ll have maybe two hours of sleep," said Seukpanya.

Melinda Huntoon says she’s lucky to work from home and have a flexible schedule, but says the issue is impacting students the most. 

"The kids have lost so much learning already," said Huntoon. "The teachers are already trying to get the kids caught up for two years and now they’re trying to get them caught up with this – it’s just thing after thing,"

Huntoon is calling on all parents to attend the district’s board meeting Thursday to address their concerns.

"For years it’s been breaking down, so it’s not a new thing, it’s not new to this year or last year – it’s had problems for years and i guess it wasn’t budgeted correctly to have it replace when it should be," said Huntoon.

The excessive heat wave has taken a toll on the state’s power grid. 

On Tuesday, the peak demand hit a new all-time record. 

California ISO is urging costumers to save electricity during peak hours to avoid power shortages and blackouts.

In the meantime, the district says it’s bringing in a second chiller to be installed to address the issue but some parents say the AC units should’ve been addressed before the start of the school year.

"Until we fix the infrastructure, which i think there will not be a new bond until 2024, we’re going to have to continuously deal with these kinds of issues, all the schools," said Theresa Backer, parent.

New flex alerts could be triggered as the heat wave continues. In the meantime, the district is asking parents for patience as they work to have running AC.

WATCH RELATED: California extends Flex Alert for 8th straight day amid scorching heat wave (September 2022)

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