Teachers and parents in Maryland schools are calling for changes to be made. With 30% of schools lacking air conditioning, students say that they are unable to focus on even simple tasks due to the suffocating heat.
Luckily, four Baltimore area schools — Dulaney, Lansdowne, Patapsco and Woodlawn high schools — are slated for AC renovations. However, that construction will not start until 2017, meaning that students and teachers will have to endure at least two more years of the heat.
Many Baltimore city schools were affected as temperatures soared into the 90s during their last week of classes. The troubling fact is that schools don’t have a temperature at which to cancel classes; it’s up to the administrators, and often this heat comes so close to the end of the year that many don’t see the point.
“It’s terrible,” said Amber Budd, who is a 14-year-old freshman at a Baltimore County school. “It’s really difficult because the heat gets to us and teachers expect us to stay awake.”
Among other issues, schools have reported children frequently visiting the school nurse for dizziness, falling asleep in class, and are even being sent home due to dehydration and overheating. While many are trying to make do with what they have, the issue may lie in a misuse of funds, or in some cases, schools being so old that they are unable to accommodate a modern HVAC system.
Many teachers have turned to recording room temperatures frequently to collect data and clearly illustrate the issue for school administrators. Only half of the schools in Baltimore city have AC, even though this is a long-standing issue. In fact, the issue sparked a heated debate two years ago, asking why the government wasn’t taking education seriously. Kids simply cannot learn if they’re overheated.
“Our facilities team works with principals to monitor building temperatures in order to make decisions about ways to provide relief and/or whether or not to close early,” school spokesperson Mychael Dickerson said in a statement. “We will not be satisfied until all our school buildings have A/C and we will continue to work with our local and state government partners to identify funding to make it happen as soon as possible.”
In the next few years, it’s reported that four to six schools will get funding for air conditioning, but it’s unclear on timelines for these projects. Students, parents and teachers will now play the waiting game to see how this will pan out, and whether or not they’ll need to have another conversation in September. Since the average lifespan of an air conditioning unit is 15 to 20 years, once these updates are made, the debate can rest until updates are needed.