Midwest schools deal with 'heat days'
CHICAGO — When students arrived for the first day of school under the blazing temperatures of a Midwest heat wave, staff greeted them with some unusual school supplies: water bottles, fans and wet towels to drape around their necks.
What they couldn't always offer was air conditioning.
“It's kind of hard to focus because everyone was sweating,” said Deniyah Jones, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Nash Elementary School on Chicago's West Side, which has just a few window units for the entire fortress-like brick and stone building.
This year's late August heat exposed a tug-of-war in school districts under pressure to start school earlier than ever but are unable to pay to equip aging buildings with air conditioning. Parents who worry hot classrooms are a disadvantage for their kids are issuing an ultimatum: Make classes cooler, or start the year later.
“Thinking about air conditioning — we can't even afford new textbooks,” said Bement Community Unit School District Superintendent Sheila Greenwood, who oversees a tiny district of 380 students near Champaign, Ill.
Many people can recall school days spent inside ancient, brick-construction buildings that on sweltering days seemed as hot as pizza ovens. But hot classrooms are becoming a bigger problem for schools than in years past, and increasingly, getting a “heat day” is as common for students as a “snow day.”
As temperatures soared past 90 last week, some Midwest schools gave students extra water and bathroom breaks or canceled after-school activities. Districts from St. Joseph, Mo., and Frankfort, Ind., sent kids home early. In Fargo, N.D., five schools got the week off, and schools in Minneapolis closed down, too.
“I was up on the third floor and it was 93.8 degrees in the classroom, and the kids hadn't been there in hours,” said Matt Patton, superintendent of a one-school district in Baxter, Iowa. “You put 20 bodies in there, and it will go up to at least 95. You can imagine all the sweat on the desks and textbooks.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama defers deportations for 4 million illegals
- Former Va. Sen. Webb launches presidential exploratory committee
- Ex-coal exec pleads not guilty in W.Va. mine blast
- ‘Sex purchasers’ publicly shamed
- Roofs collapse under Buffalo snow; weekend forecast adds to urgency to clear bulk
- Enrollment count in federal health care law padded, House panel says
- GOP hopes backlash doesn’t backfire
- NSA: China thefts could lead to attack
- FDA approves Hysingla painkiller’s abuse deterrent form
- 4 Yemenis, Tunisian moved from Gitmo
- Plan in works to speed up schools’ Internet service