Local schools dismiss early due to heat
August 27, 2013
Students in Krystal Vogel’s sixth-grade class study geometry to the tune of a fan at South Central Calhoun Middle School Monday. SCC was one of two local districts closing ealry this week due to high heat indices and a lack of air conditioning. The district dismissed early today and will also let students out two hours early Wednesday and Thursday.
Three-digit heat indices are taking a toll in local classrooms this week. Students in the Glidden-Ralston and South Central Calhoun Community School Districts will be heading home early in an effort to beat the heat.
South Central Calhoun serves about 850 students in three buildings. Students will be dismissed two hours early, at approximately 1:15 p.m., through Thursday. There will also be no junior-high activities.
Glidden-Ralston, which serves about 350 students in one building, will dismiss its students at 12:45 p.m. through Friday. Sports practices have been moved to evening, around 6 p.m.
Both districts lack air conditioning in most of their classrooms. Teachers have responded by bringing in fans or window air conditioners and allowing extra water breaks. Doors and windows have also been left open to increase air flow, but it's not enough, said superintendents Jeff Kruse and Rob Olsen of South Central Calhoun and Glidden-Ralston districts, respectively.
"The heat index is well into 100 degrees, and it's only getting down to 70 degrees at night. Our building is made out of brick, and it doesn't cool off," Olsen explained. "It'd be different if it was going to be hot for one day, but we're looking at the whole week."
Kruse said that the forecast triggered the decision to release students early for his district as well.
"Usually the call is made if we reach 88 degrees or so before the end of the morning," he said. However, last week was warm too, and the buildings were already holding heat.
By 11 a.m. Monday, various elementary classrooms were recording temperatures ranging from 80 to 84 degrees, according to South Central Calhoun elementary principal Nicole McChesney.
"I can feel myself sweating," said fourth-grade teacher Jamie Mauslby, sporting a lightweight, sleeveless blue dress. "You just survive. We expect it, I guess."
About 25 miles south, similar temperatures were recorded at Glidden-Ralston. According to Olsen, third-floor classrooms reached 85 degrees by 11 a.m. He anticipated temperatures in the 90s by the time educators began dismissing students Monday afternoon.
The early dismissal schedules are structured so that students are still able to attend all of their classes. However, though the worst heat of the day may be avoided, Olsen and Kruse agree that there is still a clear impact on concentration.
"The heat is a distraction," said Kruse. "It makes it hard to focus for both the staff and students."
According to Kruse, adding air conditioning to the buildings is not a current goal for the South Central Calhoun district. The same cannot be said for the Glidden-Ralston district. According to Olsen, the bidding process is currently open for renovations of the school's heating system, to include the addition of an air-conditioning system. He expects it to be up and running for the 2014-15 school year.
"If you can eliminate the distraction, classroom engagement and the focus on learning is greater," Olsen said.
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