The first day of school is always something to remember, but most students and teachers will probably like to forget the unusually high temperatures over the next few days.
School for the district’s 6,000+ K-8 students begins on Wednesday in what Interim Superintendent Angel Turner refers to as “less than ideal” conditions.
However, in a message sent to district families, Turner said despite the heat, “we remain committed to a joyous opening of school ….”
The average age of the system’s facilities is close to 80, and Turner says “we anticipate that it may still be warm in some spaces throughout the district given the age of our buildings and capacity of some of our cooling equipment.”
She notes that there is an “issue currently impacting several classrooms in at Washington,” and while it’s expected this will be “resolved soon,” Turner says the district is working on “provid[ing] support for these impacted classrooms.”
Some parts of schools, such as gyms and hallways, have no air conditioning. In those locations, Turner says, “activities will be kept to a minimum over the next two days.”
“Our team is putting a number of accommodations in place to manage the heat while prioritizing the safety and well-being of all,” she adds.
Among the mitigation measures are:
-All Wednesday and Thursday afternoon activities will be canceled, rescheduled, or moved indoors. The Back To School Ice Cream Social/Meet the Interim Sup’t. set for Thursday will be switched to a different day, TBA.
-Recess will be held indoors on Wednesday and Thursday.
-All athletics are canceled on those same days.
-Air conditioning was turned on on Tuesday afternoon and will run continuously until Thursday when temperatures are expected to return to normal.
-Schools will “prioritize the use of air-conditioned spaces and may move classes or activities to other spaces as needed. This may include physical education classes.”
-The HVAC team is making last minute equipment checks and repairs, and will be on standby if needed.
-Students are encouraged to bring water bottles. All schools have bottle filling stations, and will also have compostable cups for students who do not have bottles.
-Schools will follow inclement weather procedures, letting students inside earlier in the morning, and letting them stay inside later while waiting for transportation at the end of the day.
Turner says District 65 “take[s] very seriously the need to keep our students and staff as safe and comfortable as possible.”
She notes that the first day of school, symbolically at least, signifies the unofficial end of summer, although it certainly won’t feel that way.