ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Richmond County Schools has recalled take-home laptops issued to high school students after several of them overheated, melting the battery casing and causing what officials have called an “explosion.”
Specifically, the laptop battery casing overheated to a point where it expanded and melted the surrounding casing. Pictures provided by Richmond County Schools showed parts of the computer’s battery that had come apart, causing a protrusion and damaging the computers.
“At first, we thought it was an isolated incident,” said Melvin Ingram, director of RCS Auxiliary Services and K-12 Policy.
A number of words have been used to describe what happened to the laptops: an implosion, explosion, combustion, overheating, melting. Whatever you want to call it, it’s happened 10 times over the course of a few months. The latest incident happened within the last week.
“This is not an isolated (incident),” said Ingram. “This is something we need to address further by collecting the devices.”
The laptops in question that were directly affected were issued to students at Richmond Senior High School and the Ninth Grade Academy. Officials said laptops would be left in lockers or on beds, which are areas that would allow the laptop to overheat without proper ventilation, and would often not be closed, but not fully shut down and turned off.
In one instance, a student’s laptop experienced an overheating episode and that student had to be treated after battery acid got on their skin.
There are some other commonalities to the laptops, too.
All off the affected computers were HP laptops, all were a few years old and all were take-home laptops. Similar computers are within other district schools, but are kept within the schools themselves and have not experienced any issues.
A spokesperson for HP said in a statement, “Product safety is our top priority. We are working closely with our customer to fully understand the situation and identify any potential factors that may have contributed.”
Ingram said the laptops were sent back to the manufacturer to determine the exact cause.
The recall comes as there are only a few weeks left of school.
Until the end of the school year, district officials said students will be going back to using pencil and paper.
“We’re going old school,” said Ingram.