‘Rite Idea: What the Heat is Going on Here?


Students in history teacher Amanda Ersek’s conference period sweat in the intense heat despite a fan.

Shaker constantly expresses its desire to do whatever it takes to help students and teachers succeed. This is why they should consider closing or dismissing schools due to extreme temperatures. With a wave of Cleveland schools closing or being dismissed early for excessive heat and lack of air conditioning, it raises the question of the possibility of Shaker Heights High School’s un-air conditioned rooms still being open in 90 degree weather.

On Sept. 7 the weather fluctuated from 84-89 degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes even reaching a high of 90 degrees. But according to the National Weather Service, once it reaches beyond 90, one must exercise extreme caution, with the possibility of heat stroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion.

This data alone proves that inside the high school’s stuffy and older rooms, class can be unbearable, not only for the mind but for the health of the body. On the 3rd floor, an area mostly filled with language and history classrooms, classes on a day like this are excruciating. By the end of the day, the heat and general exhaustion of school can affect students and teachers alike. What determines which teachers get the pleasantries of an air conditioned room versus a non AC room?  What happens to teachers and students who are stuck in a room with no AC all day?

These questions bring up other uncertainties that arise during a situation like this. Classes such as weight training, physical education and the Raiderette squad bear an even heavier heat burden than most other classes by involving physical activity. On days of extreme heat these classes should be cancelled or continued with low-intensity activity. The same goes for students who walk or bike to school; they risk fainting or experiencing heat exhaustion.

The Raiderette squad is having an especially difficult time during this heat wave. For an hour and 15 minutes each morning they’re practicing in the multi-purpose room with only one working fan. Even with a pregnant dance instructor in the all-too stuffy room with them the girls can’t catch any relief.

On the morning of Sep. 8 in English teacher Carol Boyd’s second period class, with three fans stationed in the room, a custodian walked in to check the temperature, presumably to make sure the room wasn’t overheating. At just 10:04 a.m. Room 118 hit 84 degrees.

School is supposed to be a place where children can learn and adults can teach. How, in this sticky environment, are we supposed to keep our eyes open and focus? Students’ legs are sticking to their seats; they’re sweating away any and all water in their bodies to fight off this heat and humidity. We may not faint, but are we learning?

There comes a point when the district must do something tactical to show our teachers, students and parents that the administration cares about our health and focus in class. If the age of the high school prohibits installation central AC, why not put window air conditioners in third-floor classrooms? With climate change undeniably here, doing nothing is not an option.

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