What happens when a sweltering heat wave hits the Midwest? Public schools cancel many summer activities. Learn more about how school districts are coping with triple digit temperatures.
The heat wave that has swept much of the country this summer has become a big problem for many school districts that typically offer remedial courses and a host of activities throughout the summer vacation. With triple digits over many days in the Midwest and other areas of the country, schools without air conditioning are grappling with ways to keep kids cool inside buildings and during outdoor activities. In some cases, the heat has simply become too much, and schools have been forced to cancel many of the popular summer activities they offer. The heat is definitely on this summer, and we’ll take a look at how schools are surviving the extreme weather conditions.
Hottest Temperatures in Years
A recent article on Reuters reports that the triple digit temperatures the Midwest is facing are some of the hottest in recent history. The National Weather Service, which has been busy posting extreme heat warnings for much of the country’s mid-section, has said that this will be the most significant heat wave this region has seen in five years. One senior meteorologist at the service predicted the heat wave will affect as many as 40 states across the country, although the hardest hit areas appear to be in northern Midwest cities like Rapid City, South Dakota; Springfield, Illinois; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. In some places, heat indexes have been going as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
With the extreme heat in many areas showing no signs of leaving anytime soon, residents of Midwestern communities have been trying to find creative ways to stay cool. Even in schools, where air conditioning can be hard to come by, teachers and administrators are finding ways to help kids beat the heat. Portable cooling devices are being brought into classrooms and outdoor activities are being modified to encourage kids to stay hydrated while they play under the hot sun. However, even the best efforts of teachers are not keeping parents from getting hot under the collar about the conditions their children are facing at summer school each day.
Parents Question Lack of Air Conditioning in Chicago
Chicago Public Schools offer a wide range of summer activities to students throughout the break, from conducting remedial classes and tests to hosting a summer feeding program for low-income children and a range of sports camps. Unfortunately, Chicago Public Schools do not have air conditioning installed, making the buildings too hot for some of the children that attend the summer programs. According to a report at NBC Chicago, parents are beginning to complain that their children are “baking” inside the school classrooms, unable to effectively learn or participate in activities.
Louvenia Hood, a representative on the William Penn Elementary school council board, told the Republic, “These children are inside the classrooms, slumped over their desks. That’s how hot it is.”
The problem has prompted many Chicago parents to complain to school officials about the lack of proper climate control in school buildings. Chicago parent Cheryl Fox told NBC Chicago, “If one school has air conditioning, then all schools should have air conditioning. It’s not fair.” Fox expressed concern for her two children attending summer programs, saying, “Sitting in a couple of the classrooms, I don’t even see how the children could take it. I really don’t.”
WGNTV reported that many parents in the city are angry because the school district promised air conditioning units for the schools one year ago. However, none of the schools have the promised climate control today. In fact, when some of the air conditioning units were delivered, the district did not allow them to be installed. The school district did deliver about 1,500 emergency fans to schools across the city to help keep students cool during the hottest part of the season.
Detroit Cancelling School Activities Until Cool Down Begins
In Detroit, school officials have given up trying to keep students cool until the heat wave finally breaks. The Detroit Free Press reported that the Ferndale Public School District was forced to cancel summer school classes, sports activities and band and orchestra practices because of the extreme heat. In Western Oakland County, many of the activities went on as scheduled, but staff worked overtime to ensure kids remained hydrated during their sessions.
Janet Roberts, spokeswoman for the district, told the Detroit Free Press, “We’ve got plenty of bottled water. They’re coming up with activities to encourage the children to drink water.”
A report at The Republic stated that Detroit schools were forced to extend closures, since the heat wave was not budging. The closures applied to 102 public schools and two adult education buildings that did not have air conditioning. The classes and activities scheduled for those buildings were moved to newer locations that did offer the appropriate climate control. Flint schools also closed many of their buildings for a number of days, although classes and activities at the air-conditioned high schools went on as planned.
Many think of public schools as becoming ghost towns during the summer months as staff and students enjoy an extended vacation. However, these buildings continue to be a hub of activity all through the season, with summer classes, sports activities and a host of other options. With the extreme temperatures that hit much of the country this year, many schools could not take the heat. With luck, the temperatures will fall back down to a comfortable level soon, before school kicks into full swing for the fall semester.
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