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Keeping Cool in the Classroom

At least 25 Connecticut public school districts closed early today due to excessive heat and humidity. NBC Connecticut reported a record-breaking temperature of 92 degrees in Bridgeport, and tomorrow’s forecast predicts temperatures nearly as warm as today’s and even higher humidity levels.

In a communication to parents announcing that the town’s elementary schools would close early today, Madison Superintendent Thomas Scarice wrote, “There were a number of heat related medical concerns reported from our health offices last week when temperatures reached the upper 80s in some elementary classrooms.”

Here in the Northeast where many older schools lack air conditioning, superintendents have to make hard choices about the best way to keep kids safe during a heat wave. Connecticut state law does not set a maximum temperature for public school buildings. Many children are better off at home on a hot day, but when students don’t have air conditioning in their house or apartment, school can sometimes be the safer option.

If you’re struggling with the heat this week, Education World recommends keeping lights and electronics off when possible. Bring in a fan or two if you can and encourage students to sip water.

The website Peaceful Playgrounds offers information on keeping kids cool in school and on the playground.

Keeping Kids Cool at School is a Shared Responsibility

Parents and schools working together can mitigate this problem and keep kids safe. Parents can send their children to school ready to deal with the heat by:

  • Sending students in light-weight, loose-fitting, cotton clothing.
  • Make sure kids have a cap with a brim that protects the face.
  • Send child with small water bottle on hot day.
  • Talk to their child about the dangers of getting overheated.

Schools can:

  • Allow water bottles at school so that teachers make sure their students have access to plenty of liquids.
  • Limit recess time outdoors.
  • Encourage sipping water frequently after time spent following physical activity.
  • Teach students warning signs of heat exhaustion.
  • When possible conduct activities in the shade.
  • Minimize time spent on playground structures or hot asphalt playgrounds.
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