Baltimore County students began their first week of school on August 24. Many smiling faces headed out doors that day. Children with freshly cut hair, new shoes and school supplies stuffed in backpacks hanging from their shoulders headed off excited to start the school year, meet their teachers and reconnect with old friends. Even the many reluctant tweens and teens were quietly enthusiastic.
Teachers know the first days of school set the mood for the year to come, and rested, energized and stoked with new ideas to share, they generally greet students with matching excitement.
That rosy picture, however, soon dulled in the schools where under the new Baltimore County ruling schools without air-conditioning must not open or must close early on days where the heat index reached over 90 degrees. As a result many schools were forced to close for 2 of the first 5 days, and the next was a repeat performance.
We all know consistency is essential to learning. How much learning can we expect if a teacher can’t fully relay lessons plans without interruptions? And how long can that anticipated enthusiasm last when children are home, many alone, with new supplies still stuffed in their backpacks.
While heat is a problem, I am certain there are better methods for dealing with these conditions than closing schools and leaving children under educated and often home alone with idle hands. Already the superintendent is speaking of asking for a waiver of make-up days and we haven’t even begun to see the possible winter weather closures or the June heat closures. Are we sacrificing our children’s educations to weather conditions? This is 2016 in the most developed nation in the world. Can we not find a better solution than neglect?
Children need to be in school, learning, exploring, sharing with friends. I am not an engineer. But I am certain large fans, possible portable air conditioners and jugs of cool water could help relieve the heat conditions in the classroom enough to make it comfortable for learning. I encourage parents to join with their PTA’s and work together to change this unacceptable ruling that is sacrificing our children’s education.