HOWARD — With temperatures blazing into the 90s early this week, summer’s last hurrah has taken on a toll on some of the school districts in Knox County.
East Knox Local School district is feeling the heat as temperatures in some of the classrooms in the junior and senior high school building have reached as high as 89 degrees, according to Superintendent Steve Larcomb.
The school lacks a central air conditioning system, according to Larcomb, but several of the classrooms have been outfitted with window air conditioning units. Due to electrical capabilities, not every classroom has an air conditioning unit, so staff has been instructed to monitor the temperatures, Larcomb said. He indicated that eight classrooms were above 85 degrees Tuesday afternoon.
When classroom temperatures exceed 85 degrees, he said, alternative locations become necessary for the class. Larcomb clarified that the students will be moved to cooler classrooms. The district is also looking at cycling students through classrooms with window air conditioning units, he said, which would be organized within the building itself.
Students and staff are being given water bottles twice a day to try and assuage the heat, Larcomb said, with water breaks at approximately 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Additionally, students at both the junior and senior high school building and the elementary school building, which does have a central air conditioning system, have been given popsicles to add some relief and boost morale.
Early dismissal has not been considered by the district, according to Larcomb, who said that it would not make sense for the issue and would be difficult to coordinate the transportation. He explained that the district is doing everything possible to make sure that the students are safe, monitored and “taken care of as if they are our own children.”
Another district struggling with the heat in some classrooms is Danville Local Schools, as the high school building lacks a central air conditioning system as well.
The classrooms in the high school all have window air conditioning units, Superintendent Jason Snively told the News, but with the school’s electrical needs, adjustments have had to be made for additional technology utilized in the classrooms.
The elementary school has a brand new HVAC system, Snively said. However, preschool is held without an air conditioning unit, he said, but is located in a basement classroom with fans.
Recess will continue for the younger students, he said, but the district will continue to monitor the situations for each individual student. The district wants to maintain a sense of normalcy in regards to the heat, Snively said, but will never discourage additional water breaks.
Snively said that the district will not consider early dismissal unless the HVAC system is lost.
North Fork Local Schools is almost entirely outfitted with air conditioning, according to Superintendent Scott Hartley, however the middle school, does not have air conditioning.
The middle school, which attaches to the high school, is outfitted with window air conditioning units in 70 percent of the classrooms, Hartley said. Classrooms that do not have the window air conditioning units, when the temperatures get too hot, the students are moved to cooler areas, such as the cafeteria, multipurpose room or computer labs, which are all connected to air conditioning, he said.
The rooms without air conditioning contain window fans, he said, and staff is encouraged to give extra water breaks for students as needed. Trainers and athletic staff will monitor students during athletics as well, he said.
Early dismissal has not been discussed by the district, he said.
Not all of the districts are struggling in the heat this week, as Centerburg Local Schools does have central air conditioning in their buildings, Superintendent Mike Hebenthal said.
The district is monitoring the outdoor activities, he said and additional water breaks will be given as needed.
The largest district in the county, Mount Vernon City Schools, also has access to air conditioning in their buildings, as three buildings contain a central HVAC system, and the other five buildings are outfitted with window units in all of the classrooms, according to Superintendent Bill Seder.
The HVAC system and the window units have kept the classrooms cool enough that district has not had to consider closing or early dismissals, Seder said.
The building principals are monitoring temperatures for students and making adjustments for recess schedules as needed, he said.
Seder explained that he walked through the buildings last week and found that the main areas were steady in temperature around the lower to middle 70s range. If the district encountered higher temperatures in the classrooms, close to the 90s, the district would discuss alternative plans and what to do next, Seder said.
Fredericktown Local Schools Superintendent Matthew Crispin said the district is focusing on keeping the students and staff hydrated and cool despite the heat.
The district is fortunate to have a central air conditioning system in all of the buildings, he said.