Extreme Temperature At School: What’s the Plan?

Although we seem to be heading into more fall-like weather, the temperature inside the school this past week was a struggle for most. Record-breaking heat caused students and staff alike to take refuge in the library or one of the few rooms with air conditioning to avoid overheating.

Our principal, Ms. Kolb, can relate to our issue with the heat. She says, “In all my years of teaching, I have never had the pleasure of teaching in an air-conditioned school.” The WRDSB procedure for extreme heat that is available to the public on the board’s website essentially says to not overexert yourself and to keep blinds closed to keep the sun out. It can be frustrating to be told to drink lots of water when all we want is air conditioning, but that’s just the way it is. As Ms. Kolb and the school board advise, it’s important to remember to avoid wearing dark colours, to drink lots of fluids, and to avoid strenuous exercise. Kolb also relies on local weather reports for advice on how to keep cool. She says, “It is important to follow the advice that is given in weather advisories such as limiting strenuous activity, keep hydrated, avoid being outside activities during the hottest part of the day.”

Contrary to the beliefs of some people at our school, WCI is not the only school in the region without air conditioning. “There are many secondary schools in our district that are not air-conditioned – in fact the majority do not have air-conditioning,” says Kolb. The money that the school board receives from the Ministry of Education is distinctly established in terms of what it can and cannot be spent on. “Would enough money be provided to retrofit our schools with air-conditioning? I do not believe so,” says Kolb. Even if we went to the effort to fundraise money, it would not be allowed to be spent on the air conditioning that we crave so badly.

But can students and staff be expected to perform at the same level compared to when the temperature is normal? Mrs. Kolb believes that everyone is different. She says, “I believe our teachers do a great job ensuring that all types of learners are supported in the classroom day in and day out and this would include them adjusting for all kinds of factors within their classroom to support student needs.” Teachers are more than understanding when it comes to this problem. Some have fans in their room and are understanding when students ask to do their work in the chilly library. Until the school installs air conditioning, which may not be for a very long time, there’s really no point in complaining. It’s not helping.