Teachers in Hawaii may soon ask state officials to either cool schools down or cancel classes when it gets too hot. They're pushing for "heat days," which are exactly what they sound like -- the opposite of colder states' snow days. Honolulu's KHON-TV reported that Corey Rosenlee, the new president of the state teachers union, has plans to investigate how many of Hawaii's classrooms don't have air conditioning and take steps toward addressing the problem.
The state's Education Department previously estimated it would cost about $1.7 billion to put air conditioning in all schools, and it's slowly installing units based on priority. At least three institutions have received state funds aimed at lowering the temperature indoors since 2012. But Rosenlee told KHON-TV that "one of the things we need to consider is, if it gets really hot, if we close down the schools."
Hawaii has relatively consistent temperatures, with summer highs hovering around 89 degrees and lows around 74, according to usclimatedata.com. The next school year will begin July 29 and run through May 26, 2016.
“The first thing I thought of is, why are we having students start at the hottest time of the year?" Campell High School teacher Jessica Caraang told KHON-TV. "It is hard to teach because they're just not focused on anything."
Im not even dreading going back to school, im dreading the NO AIR CONDITIONING in school when its HOT AF!! _
— Antonella (@Antonellaxsolis) July 15, 2015
Why doesn't Hawaii believe in air conditioning ___
— Em (@_Emilyyy10) July 15, 2015
#Hottestdayoftheyear is not good when you have to go to school in a fully black uniform and having no air conditioning
— Becky Potts (@Rebecca_Potts__) July 1, 2015
Nationwide, about 30 percent of public schools with permanent buildings have air conditioning systems and ventilation/filtration systems rated as being in fair or poor condition, the National Center for Education Statistics says, and Hawaii isn't the only state weighing actions to combat the heat.
The Philadelphia School District dismissed students early last month because of the weather. Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland canceled all summer programs Monday because the weather was hot and too many schools didn't have air conditioning. A group of moms in Louisiana's Tangipahoa Parish recently collected 4,900 signatures on a petition asking for the start of school to be pushed back until after Labor Day because school buses aren't cool enough.
Chicago and other cities in the Midwest struggled with summer in 2013. Sources then told the Associated Press students were getting bloody noses, fainting and falling asleep because of the heat.
"I was up on the third floor and it was 93.8 degrees in the classroom and the kids hadn't been there in hours," said Matt Patton, schools superintendent in Baxter, Iowa. "You put 20 bodies in there and it will go up to at least 95, and you can imagine all the sweat on the desks and textbooks."