Climate change is forcing schools to close early for ‘heat days’ – The Washington Post

by | Jun 4, 2022 | Climate Change

Placeholder while article actions loadTemperatures kept rising in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Finally, it was just too hot to keep students in classrooms without air conditioning. On Tuesday, both systems let students out early.For Principal Richard M. Gordon IV, it was just another early-summer day in the halls of his West Philadelphia high school, where sweltering temperatures, high humidity and a lack of ventilation made classrooms so uncomfortable that students could barely sit still.“Can I honestly say effective learning is happening in my building? I can’t,” said Gordon, the principal of Paul Robeson High School.Climate change poses a growing threat to American schools. Regions where extreme heat was once rare — from the Northeast to the Pacific Northwest — now periodically find their buildings unbearably hot as spring turns to summer and again when classes resume in August or September.AdvertisementIn much of the South, air conditioning has long been a necessity, and schools are typically outfitted with centralized systems, although rising temperatures may require upgrades.But in places such as Philadelphia, air conditioning was a luxury decades ago, when most school buildings were constructed. Perhaps there was a hot day in mid-June or an uncomfortable swelter in early September. They were flukes.No more. Urban areas, in particular, tend to have a dangerous combination of older buildings, less money to upgrade them and concentrated heat. Designed to maximize space in crowded environments, urban schools often lack green space and shade. Asphalt often covers their playgrounds and other open spaces, radiating heat during the summer.A study by the Government Accountability Office found that about 41 percent of public school districts in the United States need to update or replace the heating, cooling and ventilation systems in at least half of their schools. That represents about 36,000 schools nationwide.AdvertisementThe GAO pointed to a Michigan school district where 60 percent of schools lack air conditioning and extreme heat has forced the district to change its schedule. It also cited a Maryland district that botched its air conditioning retrofit in some schools, causing moisture and condensation problems that officials estimate could cost $1 million per building to correct.Heat inhibits learning. In a study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior in 2020, researchers found that students scored worse on standardized exams for every additional day of 80-degree or higher te …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This