The Heat Is On: Students Sent Home as Climate Change Heats Classrooms

Jun 8, 2022

One of the reasons school historically lets out for the summer months has to do with heat. It’s hard to focus and learn while sweating in a hot classroom. Believe it or not, air conditioning (AC) has only been around in a minority of schools since the 1970s and 1980s.

Even today, many schools don't have AC. So, higher temperatures are wreaking havoc on some affected students. Last week, schools in Philadelphia and Baltimore sent kids home early. They had to take "heat days."

Areas of the US, in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest where hot, humid days have never factored into school, are now finding school buildings too hot for students. It's mostly a problem during the start and end of the school year. 

Urban schools have limited physical space on which to build schools. They were built to crowd large numbers of children into small spaces. Those areas usually lack shade from trees or other green space.

A study found that about 41% of public school systems need to modernize or replace the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in at least half of their schools. That’s about 36,000 buildings around the US. 

Black and Latino students are less likely to be in air-conditioned school buildings. They are the most impacted by really hot classrooms. That's according to the journal Nature. Researchers found students did worse on standardized tests when temperatures rose above 80 degrees. 

Photo by CDC courtesy of Unsplash. 

Based on information in the final paragraph, the reader can conclude that _______. (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. more students missed school this year due to extreme heat than because of snow
b. administrators were forced to send home kids early last week due to heat
c. public school systems need to replace old heating and cooling systems
d. some students do worse on standardized tests when it is hot out
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