TCAPS and Old Mission Move to Early Dismissal Due to Excessive Temps
"Our classrooms... get the sunshine all day long. It’s unbearable." - Liz Hague, Old Mission Elementary Teacher
School is almost out for the summer. But the key word is almost. Summer temperatures, however, aren’t waiting.
Northern Michigan’s largest school district is taking the unusual step of a weather-related schedule change: sending students home early because of the heat. TCAPS has early dismissal times both Thursday and Friday, and at least one other school is following suit.
Old Mission Elementary School teacher Lizzie Berger says, “I’ve never had an early release because of heat.” But that’s changing. The decision may be pretty unusual. But then again, it’s pretty hot. OMPS Teacher Liz Hague says, “It has been almost unbearable. My children are sweaty and hot. It’s very hard to teach children that are lethargic… and want to lay on the ground.”
At Old Mission Elementary, teachers says the heat is brutal, and kids aren’t handling it well. Hague says, “Well it’s obviously a very difficult time to teach at the end of the year anyway. But on top of that when they have zero energy and their faces are beet red. And you know they have nothing more to give in the classroom.” Berger agrees. “At the end of the day they just slowly kind of deteriorate, and are laying on the floor putting their heads down. It’s been harder to persevere with them as it gets hotter.”
Over the noon hour Thursday it already hit 86 degrees in Traverse City – well before the end of the normal school day. And that temperature climbs before the end of the day, with the forecast calling for 88 degrees. But it’s already hotter than that inside some of the school classrooms.
Berger says they’re getting creative and doing whatever they can think of to help. “We’ve turned our lights off, we’ve got our blinds shut down…. A parent brought a fan for me. That was really nice. And we’ve been traveling to the cooler parts of the school.” Hague agrees. “We go to different spots throughout the day outside, where there is shade. And also our library is air conditioned. But when five other classes want to come into the library that can be troublesome.”
The thermometer Hague uses for COVID temperature checks also has a setting to check the surface temp of objects. “My classroom at one point was 86-88 degrees. With no airflow coming in either.” And Thursday, the windowsill inside the classroom registered 92 degrees.
TCAPS made the call for early release – and given the temps the superintendent says it’s the right decision for a district without air conditioning. Dr. John VanWagoner says, “It’s been high 80s all week plus humidity. Plus, with a mask on. Without drinking fountains. This was just what collectively I felt the best decision was.”
Just a few more days of school for everyone – and just a few more days of this intense heat. “Next week we’ll be in the 70’s. But as I remind people, two and a half weeks ago we shut our last boiler off for winter heat… it just kind of turned on us.”