East Palo Alto school with no heat takes early winter break

For the past two weeks much of East Palo Alto’s Costano Elementary School has been without heat. On Wednesday the district announced it is closing the school Thursday and Friday because it is too cold inside.

Students told us they wear heavy coats in class. One girl says she couldn't use a pencil because her hand was too cold. Parents are not pleased, to say the least,

"You got kids in parks not focused, shivering. You put a little small heater in there. What's that heat going to do. They need to come up with better ways to fix the situation," said Santos Estrada, the father of two young students at the school.

The problem began December 2nd when the school discovered a leak in a gas pipe. The gas was shut off and no one was hurt.

But the school closed for a day while space heaters were brought in.

The principal says those heaters worked fine until this week when the temperature dropped into the low 50s.

"Walking through the classrooms myself, some are comfortable, but in some they're keeping their jackets and scarves on and that is just not okay," said school principal Gina Sudaria.

Fixing the gas line is the responsibility of the school district, not PG&E.

The district says the pipe was old, and that it’s been unable to get started on the underground repairs.

"What is taking a long time is that because the gas line goes across the Hetch Hetchy waterlines, we are required to get approvals from the regional Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System," said Kevin Sved, facilities director with the Ravenswood School District.

Estrada says it never should have gotten to this point.

"The school district needs to be on top of their stuff. They need to know what is going on in every school in this district. And apparently they are not," he said.

The district says it expects to have the repairs done over the holiday. Officials say when students return to class in January the heat should be back on.