How suburban school districts are dealing with extreme heat this week


As scorching temperatures move into the region Wednesday and Thursday, it all hangs on cooling systems for local school districts, with some canceling classes because of inadequate air conditioning.

The heat index could hit as high as 115 degrees, considered a dangerous level by the National Weather Service.

Downers Grove Elementary District 58 postponed the start of classes from Wednesday to Friday.

“Unfortunately, our classrooms and most areas of our schools are not equipped with air conditioning nor modern HVAC systems,” Superintendent Kevin Russell told parents in a message Monday. “By postponing the start of school by two days, we aim to provide a more favorable environment for effective teaching and learning.”

The district is planning to install new HVAC systems at all schools in the next few years.

Crystal Lake District 47 is closing Canterbury and West elementary schools Wednesday and Thursday.

“These two buildings do not have air conditioning in the majority of the classrooms/instructional spaces as in our other schools. School for Canterbury and West will resume Friday,” Superintendent Kathy Hinz wrote in an email to parents.

In Lake County, Woodland Elementary District 50 administrators told middle school parents they are taking measures, including hiring air-conditioned charter buses and rotating students to cool spaces, such as the library, because of AC issues.



Woodland Intermediate School is “operating at about half of our normal air conditioner power due to recent parts failures in our cooling system,” officials said.

“We expect the extreme heat may overwhelm the system, so we will be implementing additional measures for this location.”

The state’s second-largest school unit, Elgin Area District U-46, has air conditioning in its buildings and planned to hold classes with adjustments as did other districts with AC.

“We will follow IHSA weather protocol for sports and activities and will continue to monitor the forecast,” Arlington Heights District 214 spokeswoman Stephanie Kim said.

Likewise, Des Plaines Elementary District 62 “will make adjustments to outdoor recess, physical education classes and after-school activities as needed,” Community Relations Director Jennifer Bova said.



The Illinois High School Sports Association lists guidelines depending on temperature and humidity readings taken before and after the start of outdoor activities. Providing ample water is required whenever it’s over 80 degrees. Then water breaks lasting 5-10 minutes are recommended every 30-40 minutes when the heat index exceeds 95 degrees, and mandatory when over 100.

Ice-downed towels also are part of the protocols, as well as simply reducing outdoor activity and some uniform equipment, and even reducing indoor activity where there’s no AC.

Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officials informed parents it would “continuously run all air conditioning units through Friday evening to ensure our schools can maintain a comfortable temperature.”

With high school sports in full swing, athletic trainers are watching temperatures and following IHSA guidelines, St. Charles North High School Athletic Director Joseph Benoit said.

“Additional water breaks and ensuring our student-athletes have access to cool towels and breaks will be a priority throughout the week,” Benoit said. “We are also modifying practice times and locations by moving some practices to the morning and others indoors as necessary.”

• Shaw Local News Network contributed to this report.



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