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Air conditioner copper thefts force minimum days at Rialto schools

August 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's only the first week of school at Casey Elementary, but already students are getting to go home before the bell rings. A recent string of copper thefts have left the school without air conditioning, turning some classrooms into ovens.

"If it's 95 or 96 degrees in the classroom, learning can't take place. So these individuals that are taking the cooper and maybe selling it or doing whatever they want, they are not looking at the big picture," said school principal James Nava.

Several other schools in the area have also been hit. The thefts have forced the Rialto Unified School District to place all 26,000 of its students on a minimum day for the rest of the week until the air conditioners can be repaired.

"Them not having air conditioning, it concerns me," said parent Erika Castellanos. "They're not going to be learning, they're going to be more concerned about the air and it's hot."

The brutal heat wave comes during the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department annual hot car simulation. The goal is to show people it doesn't take long for a child left in a car on a hot day to suffer from a heat stroke.

"We are going to encourage bystanders who see something like this going on to get involved, to call 911 right away," said Clark Morrow with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The number of emergency calls due to heat-related illnesses is also on the rise this week.

"We have a lot more runs we go on where people with all sorts of heat-related injuries and illnesses come out. Just because they just don't realize to take care of themselves with these hot temperatures," said Matt Payne with the Rialto Fire Department.

The school district says it plan to have all students back on a normal schedule by Monday.


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