“This might be the second time in my career that I’ve worn shorts on-site,” Hatton Elementary School Principal Robert Garry said.
Garry dismissed his more than 300 students for the day as temperatures started to climb above 90 degrees.
“We started planning last week, there were discussions down with our central office about the heat and the factor that it would contribute to a really difficult learning environment,” Garry said.
Garry said the majority of classrooms in his building, as well as across the district, do not have air conditioning.
Southington Public Schools was one of at least 64 school districts in Connecticut announcing early dismissals because of the oppressive heat.
Schools like Hatton Elementary used air handlers to help keep the air moving throughout the buildings, but the schools have to turn them off when kids are walking through the hallways because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Anytime there’s going to be a mass amount of kids passing between classes, we make sure to turn it off,” Garry said.
Garry said state Department of Public Health coronavirus guidance still requires students to continue to wear masks in the classroom. On top of that, fans in classrooms cannot be used and windows can only be opened when the classroom is not in use.
“Don’t want them sweating to death, you know,” Kelly Ann Boga said.
Parents and family members like Kelly Ann Boga were in the pickup line just after noon Monday picking up her great-niece and nephew and getting them to air conditioning after school.
“They’re miserable, we’re miserable, why aren’t they going to be miserable?” Boga said.
The Connecticut Education Association said the early dismissals at schools across the state are an indication that federal funds need to be used for air conditioning and improving indoor air quality.
"The COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing heatwave demonstrate the critical need for all Connecticut's public schools to have healthy, safe classrooms, including air conditioning systems," the association said in a statement. "With federal funding now available, legislators and the state must act to ensure those funds are used to improve indoor air quality and provide safe teaching and learning environments for all Connecticut students and teachers."
"Dozens of school districts have been forced to close or are implementing early dismissal plans today because classrooms are not equipped with air conditioning or proper ventilation systems, causing temperatures to rise to unsafe levels. Poor ventilation in public schools is also a concern because of airborne pathogens - such as coronavirus," the statement reads.
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