September 9, 2015
This letter provides context for my decision to change today’s school day to an early release. Yesterday, I visited over 75 classroom spaces in three schools – North Berwick Elementary, Noble High, and Hussey Elementary – before 10:00 AM. The classroom temperatures typically ranged between 84º and 94º, while the relative humidity was at 61%. Several spaces were above 95º. I visited more spaces in the afternoon and typically found many spaces above 95º.
Our district utilizes the resources of Mr. Russ Murley from Precision Weather Service. In speaking with Russ yesterday, he noted that today’s forecast called for higher temperatures and slightly higher humidity levels.
Obviously, school facilities are not like homes. We do not open doors to allow enhanced air circulation, as that is a breach of security protocol. We do not leave first floor windows open at night because of the potential for unauthorized entrance. Very few spaces have air conditioning units, as that is cost prohibitive.
Though staff is working to keep temperatures down in classrooms (i.e., lights out, fans moving air, shades drawn), the number of bodies in each space means additional heat. My biggest concern is that the rooms would not have a chance to cool down overnight, thereby adding to today’s oppressive conditions.
I have received a few questions about high school sports. Mr. Marelli always ensures we follow MPA guidelines for physical activity in hot conditions. In fact, we are going beyond the recommended hydration cycle and have instructed coaches to allow hydration breaks every fifteen minutes. High school students can much more readily monitor themselves and act on signals from their bodies than can 5 to 9 year olds.
In closing, I wish to thank students and staff for their perseverance and attendance during the past four days of the school year. And, I look forward to cooler temperatures in the coming days.