Schools Cut School Days Short Due To Lack Of AC

Schools in this major city closed early, citing the lack of school AC as the reason shedding light on a big issue across the US.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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school AC

Public schools are failing across the United States. As America perpetually drops in school ranking globally, there are many factors at play. Grades are dropping, budgets are being slashed, and teachers are increasingly leaving the profession. On top of all of this, the condition of school buildings is also shedding light on the failures of public education. Oftentimes, students are expected to spend the majority of their day in schools in deplorable conditions. Schools in Detroit are the perfect example of this, where officials recently had no choice but to cut school days short due to high temperatures, and a lack of school AC.

Air conditioning may be a necessity in states like Florida, where soaring temps are the norm for school students. But in many states across the U.S., schools don’t even have this basic comforting aspect. This is the case in point for many schools in Detroit, where school days are being cut short due to the lack of school AC. Chalkbeat reported on this story, which shines a light on a major issue these schools face. 

School AC issues may seem like small fish to fry in a large lake of issues, but it has major effects on students. A study from the Harvard Kennedy School examined the influence that consistent heat exposure had on learning. In conclusion, the report found that the hotter the classroom, the lower students tended to score on standardized tests. Also, the research reported that air conditioning heavily counterbalanced the impact, improving student performance across the board.

With summer around the corner, temperatures are rising all over the country. In Detroit, temperatures reached upwards of 90 degrees this week. This led superintendent Nikolai Vitti to make the call to close schools early, at 12:30, citing that most of the buildings had no school AC. Furthermore, Vitti acknowledged that district officials believed the stifling heat inside classrooms would make teaching and student focus near impossible.

Fortunately for students in Detroit, school AC will become a reality for most public schools at some point in time. However, it could be years before some of the schools receive air conditioning. Within a $700 million facility plan approved by the school board in May, 95% of all Detroit school buildings will receive functioning air conditioning systems through a five-year project. As of now, only 35% of school buildings have functioning AC units in the major city. School leaders are hopeful this hefty investment will boost student morale in warmer school months.

While it is great to see Detroit public schools finally getting something as basic as school AC, many schools throughout the nation are in the same boat, with no plans of change. Nearly half of all schools across America did not have school AC as of 2018, according to a report from EdWeek. To put this into perspective, consider all of the places that come standard with air conditioning. Government offices, public places, and businesses – they all generally come equipped with AC – so why is it so hard to get young children to learn in comfortable environments?

school AC

It is no wonder public schools are considered to be a failing system, considering that something as simple as school AC is often left out of school buildings where students are expected to study and learn for more than six hours a day. Still, there is hope for districts that don’t already have air conditioning. A recent grant proposal from the Biden Administration set aside $500 million in funding for schools to apply for infrastructure updates. Hopefully, districts will take advantage of these types of programs to invest in air conditioning, to make public schools more comfortable for learners.