NewsLocal News


Warm weather means tough calls for school administrators

One school sent kids home at 1:30 p.m.
Kids wait for pickup
Posted at 5:01 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 10:36:19-04

CLEVELAND — The heat early in the week was hard to ignore. It was hot. Pretty much everywhere. Air conditioners were working overtime.

For some schools, many dealing with the transition to students back in the classroom full-time after a year of pandemic learning, the heat was too much.

Some schools in the Cleveland district like Collinwood, Tremont Montessori and Ben Franklin closed early. Other districts, like Parma and Willoughby-Eastlake, closed all their schools.

But for other districts, it was on a school-by-school basis.

Leaders at Archbishop Lyke Elementary School made the call to close two hours early Tuesday as the day started.

"It's hot as hell outside," said parent Samantha Chandler. She decided to walk into the school to pick up her kids because her car doesn't have A/C, and sitting in the heat was not appealing.

The school, built less than 30 years ago, doesn't have central air conditioning. Inside the brick building off Harvard Avenue, the air was thick and muggy — warm enough to make a few students sweat.

"If we have a donor who wants to put in half a million dollars to air-condition the building, I would welcome it," principal Nancy Lynch said.

Fans in the gymnasium and in classrooms were running full bore. Lights were off and blinds were down to keep the rooms as cool as possible. But with an average of 29 students in each room, the efforts weren't working like Lynch hoped. The ventilation required under the school's COVID protocols was difficult because of the weather and Lynch said that doubled the immediacy.

So she made the call to send students home at 1:30 p.m. instead of the original dismissal time.

"Oh they're going to happy!" she said about the students' reactions. "Are you kidding? Who wouldn't be happy getting out of school two hours early?"

The kids were happy to get into cool cars and head home, but this could be a big issue for some schools if heat like this continues.

Lynch was already planning for future warm days even before the final bell of the day rang.

"We're going to have tents outside," she said. "It's going to allow students to be outside, in the air, but covered so the direct sunlight isn't on them."

Chandler agreed with the decision to dismiss early but she said it's time for something to change. Because of the last-minute call, Lynch was aware not every student could go home early. Staff stayed until the original dismissal time.

For her, even if a few students left, it would allow those who stayed to spread out and air would circulate better.