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Kids Are Cold at Oakland’s Brookfield Elementary, but There’s Pizza

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Students in Oakland Unified School District already had enough on their plate with a potential teachers strike looming, but things went from bad to worse last week for the kids at Brookfield Elementary School when a gas outage cut off their central heat and access to hot food.

The district first attempted to keep students from turning into icicles with 18 space heaters, which staff told KTVU “couldn’t warm a marshmallow.” They followed up with larger units that are reportedly helping, but even those have been taxed to keep up with frigid temperatures the Bay Area is experiencing.

The outage was caused by a leak discovered Thursday, which prompted immediate evacuation until crews arrived and shut the gas off entirely. Since then, the elementary school students have been bundling up in several layers of clothing for insulation.

Brookfield Elementary School in Oakland, Calif. has been without central heat or hot meals after a gas leak was discovered February 7, 2019. Photo courtesy of School Finder

The outage not only cut off central heat for the campus, but also impacts food service. No gas, no hot meals. The scene has been stark with children stuck eating cold sandwiches and cereal while they are bundled up in multiple sweaters and jackets.

Wearing extra clothes and eating cold food is definitely an inconvenience but a little discomfort is acceptable, especially in light of the gas explosion and inferno in San Francisco just last week. Faculty, parents and students are thankful the leak was caught before anything truly tragic happened, but it is taking a toll.

To make matters worse, the repair work has been delayed by rain and could take up to one more week before gas service is restored. One shiny surprise in this otherwise bleak story comes as good will from Wells Fargo. The financial giant is donating enough pizza to feed the entire school Wednesday through Friday, which just might make the double-jacket situation a little less annoying.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.