Too Hot For Class? Teacher Union Seeks 'Heat Days'

Too Hot For Class? Teacher Union Seeks 'Heat Days'

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New York State United Teachers, or NYSUT, is supporting a bill that would establish a maximum temperature in school buildings and indoor facilities. And if classrooms reach that temperature, classes could be canceled.

Last week, the north country was so hot that many schools canceled after school activities. But during the day, students and faculty tried to keep cool inside the classroom - something that was even more of a concern in buildings with no cooling system, like Indian River Middle School.

"Fans were being utilized, some tried and true techniques like turning the lights off, offering alternate activities, and evening alternating the location," said Mary Anne Dobmeier, Indian River School District superintendent. 

NYSUT is pushing for legislation that would allow schools to declare 'heat days' when classroom temperatures hit 82 degrees and it would keep rooms from being occupied if it is hotter than 88 degrees inside.

It got up to more than 90 degrees last Wednesday in a Watertown elementary classroom. Watertown's superintendent wasn't available for comment.

NYSUT says working in hot classrooms can negatively affect students' health and learning experience. It also wants local union members to work with schools to create heat emergency plans.

Ogdensburg City School District Superintendent Tim Vernsey says it would be great to have guidelines, but ultimately it should be up to schools to decide whether or not to cancel classes, like when it comes to snow days.

"I think that might be a little more appropriate than have just some sort of firm standard because it could be 82 degrees and if the wind is blowing 10 or 12 miles per hour and the windows are open and you're getting a nice breeze, it may not feel that hot," he said.

The bill failed to pass during the most recent legislative session. NYSUT is asking for it to be reintroduced early next year.

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