Just days before school began Aug. 7, the Richmond County fire marshal determined the exhaust hood in the kitchen of the school's second building, which houses about 311 pupils, needed to be replaced, leaving the kitchen unusable for cooking, said Joe Bradenburg, the school nutrition coordinator.
The situation is the first in recent history for the school system and has left some parents concerned.
"We've served these sorts of lunches for field trips, but we've never had to confront this for an extended period," Mr. Bradenburg said.
For most of the summer, the second building of Hornsby, which was East Augusta Middle School until this year, was under renovation, Mr. Bradenburg said. Crews were removing asbestos, painting and repairing restrooms in the cafeteria, but once the fire marshal declared the exhaust hood a hazard, all work was halted.
"Now we have replaced the hood, but we have to complete the other work that must be done," Mr. Bradenburg said.
The repairs are to be finished by Aug. 24, but if not the students will begin eating lunch in the first building, where pupils in pre-K through fifth grade are housed, Mr. Bradenburg said. The pupils haven't been eating in the first building because of remaining construction work.
"The building has no coverage or walkway to the first building, and clearly that would have been an issue with the weather we've had this week," Mr. Bradenburg said. "These are things that will be resolved soon."
Dorothy Law said she isn't satisfied with that reasoning. Her twin great-nieces are in seventh grade at Hornsby.
"They haven't been eating their lunches all week," she said Thursday. "At least they could have been eating in the other building. This is not something they should slack on."
Assistant Principal Charles Givens said the lunches are temporary and are still satisfying the pupils' nutritional needs.
"We're using high-quality lunches that have sandwiches and vegetables," he said. "There are just a couple of minor issues that have to be resolved before hot meals can be served."
Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.