Tuesday, July 16, 2019 Elyria 84°

Local News

School districts face case-by-case choices for heat-related cancellations


As temperatures continued to climb Tuesday, local superintendents were forced to make decisions whether to have school, release students early or proceed with caution when it came to outdoor activities.

Midview Superintendent Bruce Willingham made the decision to release students from Midview High School at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and today due to lack of central air conditioning in the building.

“All the other schools, K through 8, have air conditioning,” Willingham said Tuesday afternoon. “I just walked through the high school, and it was warm and steamy, but not unbearable.”

Schools closed today
Elyria Schools
Oberlin Schools
Firelands Schools
Elyria Catholic
Wellington: Westwood Elementary
Sheffield-Sheffield Lake: Knollwood and Forestlawn elementaries and Brookside Intermediate
Avon Lake: Westview, Erieview, Redwood and Eastview elementaries and Learwood Intermediate
Midview High School early release at 11:30 a.m.

However, it’s important to take precautions when it comes to heat and students, he noted.

In an effort to ensure student athletes safety, the Midview High School girls volleyball game Tuesday was moved from the high school to the middle school, where the gym has air condition.

Willingham said he relayed a message to all sports coaches noting that it is up to their discretion to give extra water breaks, or whether even to hold practice at all Tuesday and today.

“The heat index will go up after noon, so it’s up to the coaches on what they want to do,” he said, adding the students’ safety is most important.

Keystone Superintendent Dan White said by the start of school Tuesday, the air condition inside the Keystone Middle School was not working to capacity, and that the high school also experienced a delay in operation.

“Our director of maintenance did a great job getting his staff to address the concerns immediately,” White said. “Both the middle and high school AC’s are now operating to capacity and students and staff could tell the buildings were cooler by late morning.”

White noted that while the air condition units were being repaired, students were allowed to bring and carry water bottles through all three schools.

“Students were encouraged to drink a lot,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

White said even though temperatures rose throughout the day, elementary-aged students still participated in recess.

“Teachers encouraged students to not too much or play too hard, but use recess more for swinging, walking, sitting in the shade, playing slowly on the playground equipment,” he said. “Essentially, asking students to enjoy slower types of activities. Students are allowed to get water at any time during recess and get water at the hydration stations after recess.”

Meanwhile, Avon Lake Schools closed all four of its elementary schools, as the buildings didn’t have air conditioning throughout. Erieview, Westview, Eastview and Redwood elementaries, along with Learwood Intermediate School were closed Tuesday, and will be closed today, due to the heat index.

There are some areas in each building with air conditioning, but since the main areas of each closed school are more than 50 years old, central air is not available in each classroom and the school’s power grid may be unable to handle running window units in each classroom, Superintendent Bob Scott said.

“(The) windows do open and we’ve got a lot of things in place in those buildings — we’ve got multiple fans,” he said “We try to keep the air moving through the buildings, but when it gets to a certain point it is just hot.”

The district’s other middle school, Troy Intermediate, and the high school were open, as those buildings are completely air conditioned. The hours missed at the elementary schools and Learwood will count against those building’s calamity hours — the same as what snow days would — Scott said, but as of right now the students would not have to make up the days lost.

He said as temperatures rose last week, many classrooms were warm, but didn’t have the humidity or heat index Tuesday did and today is expected to. As the “real feel” creeps into the 90s, that’s when the district starts to worry, he explained.

“It’s an imperfect science,” he said. “I’m looking at three different weather services and like even for tomorrow for the afternoon, all three have different temperatures, different heat indexes, different real feels. A lot is in the buildings … looking at the forecast and then looking at the buildings and trying to make the best decision.

“Any time the temperature starts to get into the upper 80s, you really start looking at it closely.”

Contact Melissa Linebrink at (440) 329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @MLinebrinkCT. Carissa Woytach contributed to this story.

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