Excessive heat causing school districts to close, citing impacts to bus routes

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 7:01 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The heat index was in the triple digits across central Virginia Thursday. This is cause for concern, as many students riding buses with no air conditioning on long routes, would experience temperatures feeling like over 110 degrees.

Early Thursday morning, Orange County Public Schools announced it would be closed to students, due to the heat. Buckingham County Public Schools released students at 1 p.m., and is planning on doing the same on Friday, due to the heat advisory.

BCPS Superintendent Dr. Daisy Hicks said in a statement to NBC29: “Our school buses do not have air conditioning and with the mandate of students wearing masks on the buses, this decision was made for the safety of our students.”

Louisa County Public Schools, another large rural county, says it’s being proactive to prevent trouble down the road.

“We’ve got cold bottled water on each of our buses for every student to have as they travel home today, and certainly we’ll do the same thing tomorrow as the heat goes up. We’ll have the windows down on our buses as well, so it’s ventilated and certainly circulating air,” said LCPS Superintendent Doug Straley. “We’ve also positioned buses around the county today with extra drivers in case there were an incident of any type, if a bus breaks down or so forth, we have someone right there to gather those students and keep them moving.”

Even with long routes, Albemarle County Public Schools says it has not had an issue with the heat in the past.

“Over 70% of our buses are air conditioned and those are the only ones we use in the summer. We don’t run un-air-conditioned buses in the summer when the heat is this bad,” said ACPS Spokesperson Helen Dunn.

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