High Temps Force School Closures Across The Nation
Extreme heat is forcing closed schools all across the nation signifying a growing, ominous problem in schools.
Schools aren’t expected to be canceled this year because of COVID, but something else is forcing closed schools all across the nation as a new school year begins. Extreme heat is forcing districts to shutter their school building doors. It’s a problem affecting more schools each year and signifies a growing, ominous problem.
From Philadelphia to Cleveland to San Diego, hundreds of schools were shut down this week because of the scorching temps. Over 100 Philadelphia public schools alone canceled classes and closed schools thanks to a late summer heat wave bringing temperatures into the 90s. What’s more, schools in the City of Brotherly Love had to cancel after-school sports as well, out of safety protocols.
At the beginning of the week, multiple Baltimore City schools let children out on early dismissal because of rising temperatures. Baltimore will continue following a half-day schedule for the rest of the week. Closed schools due to inclement weather is a normal occurrence for Cleveland public schools in the wintertime, but this week, they held virtual classes on Monday because of the balmy weather.
All the way across the nation in California, where extreme heat is standard, even closed schools in San Diego were affected by weather reaching the triple digits. San Diego schools should be well-equipped to control school building climates given the fact that warm weather is a normal occurrence, but the fact remains that many cash-strapped public schools in the area — and across the U.S. — are struggling to update HVAC systems for heating and cooling.
According to a report from The Hill, thousands of public school buildings across America have inadequate heating and cooling systems, along with bad air ventilation. Many schools have been able to have this finding slip under the cracks unnoticed for years. But now that extreme temperatures are leading to more closed schools regularly, it is hard to ignore the situation.
Hot days bringing city temperatures into the 90s and above are becoming more frequent and they are only expected to get worse because of climate change. What’s more, schools — especially those in impoverished areas — are rarely equipped with sufficient cooling systems to keep classrooms at comfortable temperatures for learning. This leads to more closed schools.
Other than making everyone feel cool and refreshed, there are major health and academic concerns with extreme temperatures in the classroom leading up to closed schools. Research shows how heat can affect students’ performance. A Harvard Kennedy School study researched the impact consistent heat exposure has on learning. Overall, the warmer the room, the poorer students performed on tests. The study similarly analyzed air conditioning’s impact in that setting, which depicted a drastic increase in scores across the board.
According to the federal government’s Office of Accountability, at least 36,000 public schools across America need their HVAC systems updated. The Department of Education has been urging schools to utilize COVID relief money to fund these programs, but it is unknown how many will choose to do so. Closed schools caused by extreme heat are becoming a regular occurrence in America, and as the school year continues, it’s likely we will see much more.