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Hot Weather Forces School To Close Early

Les Quennevais school closed at lunchtime today (12 July) because of ongoing problems with high temperatures in the building during spells of hot weather.

Students were sent home early (1.10pm) because temperatures exceeded 32°C.

There have been long-running problems with insufficient air-cooling systems since the £40m building opened in 2020.

None of the windows can be opened.

Headteacher Sarah Hague has written to parents saying they have no option but to close the school at lunchtime because conditions during the afternoon would be 'very difficult for students and staff'.

End-of-term events including Sports Day and the Awards Ceremony are being moved to Thursday and Friday morning in anticipation of more afternoon closures this week as the hot weather continues.

Temperatures are predicted to reach the mid-to-high 30s next weekend.

Sarah Hague says 'the problem will be rectified during the summer holidays'.

We first reported the ventilation problems at the school in September 2021.

Last month, Channel 103 reported that Ms. Hague had written to parents to express her frustration that 'unacceptable' issues with the air cooling system had not been rectified as promised for the current academic year.  She said she was then told a new system would be installed during the last Easter break.

"As you can imagine I have raised this continually as unacceptable with the Government department Growth Housing and Environment and Tim Daniels from Jersey Property Holdings. We have been told that the installation will now take place during the summer holidays, which does not solve the current conditions we will face on hot days until then." - Sarah Hague, in a letter to parents in June 2022.

It's understood a number of temporary cooling systems were installed in mid-June, as Jersey recorded its hottest June day on the 17th of the month at 33.2°C.

At that time, the government gave this statement:

"The majority of the time, all school buildings meeting (sic) the expected temperature range for students and staff to learn and work comfortably. For the short annual periods – such as this week – where temperatures rise above average, we respond accordingly.

In the case of Les Quennevais, staff are working to minimise the impact on students and staff.

Seven temporary air conditioning units were installed on Tuesday evening, and seven were installed on Wednesday evening."- Government statement from June 2022.

The new Children & Education Minister, Deputy Inna Gardiner - who has taken up the ministerial position this week - says she is working with officers to try and find urgent solutions to the ongoing issues with air conditioning at Les Quennevais School.

In a statement, the new Minister says she'll work with officers and the Infrastructure Minister 'to find a suitable long-term solution.'

"I know that there have been ongoing concerns with the temperature at the new Les Quennevais School, and I visited the school today to see the impact of the high temperatures on students and staff. I’d like to thank the Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Tom Binet, for joining me in the visit. 

A new cooling system was due to be installed at Easter, but the equipment did not arrive in time for the work to be completed before the Summer Term.

While some localised cooling measures have been installed, and further measures will be installed in the most-affected areas during the school holidays, I will continue to review the proposed improvements to make sure they function effectively, and provide an update later this month. I will continue to work with Deputy Binet and officers to find a suitable long-term solution."

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