The mandated closure of the 37 Baltimore County schools without air conditioning when the forecasted heat would be at least 90 degrees did not sit well with many parents.
In the first week of classes, those schools closed for two days because of the heat, and in response to the outrage the Board of Education of Baltimore County voted to revise the rule so that those non air-conditioned schools would only close if the heat index was to reach 90 degrees by 11 a.m.
A Baltimore County school bus. (Courtesy photo)
Mark Williams, a parent to an 11th grade student at Woodlawn High School, said that this change doesn’t make much of a difference.
“I’ve had three children already graduate from Woodlawn and we’ve never had this situation where the heat index indicates anything about them going to school or not,” Williams told the AFRO.
He also expressed support for portable AC units in schools in the meantime, as it is projected that all county elementary in middle schools will not have air until fall of 2017 and high schools will not have air conditioning until fall of 2018, after his son will have already graduated.
On Aug. 31, Gov. Hogan signed an executive order to delay the start of school next year until after Labor Day which he said in a press conference would generate tourism revenue and keep children out of “hot, un-air conditioned classrooms.” Williams said that he feels this won’t help with the issue.
“We’re only talking about a difference of maybe eight days,” he said. “With the unpredictable weather it could be 100 degrees in October just like it could be 100 degrees in August.”
His son, Christopher Williams, said that he is used to the summer heat from playing football on 100 degree days and doesn’t mind sweating it out in class, but the conditions inside the school are different.
“We’re inside a building so the humidity is really bad,” he said. “Woodlawn’s population is growing drastically so our hallways are becoming stuffed. It’s kind of hard to focus.”
Jalyne Swann, an 11th grader at Dulaney High School, also said that the heat can be distracting but she doesn’t like having to miss volleyball practice while her competitors at air-conditioned BCPS schools do not.
“I think is good because it’s always really hot in that school and we can’t really concentrate and focus because everybody is worried about cooling down and stuff,” she said. “It’s good that we get away from that but then again we’re missing school and now we’re falling behind.”
Her mother, Lanine Swann, expressed concerns of her daughter falling behind academically.
“They’re out of school more but they’re still held to the same standard,” Swann said. “I think there should be something in mind saying that when schools are closed, the work that they would do in school would be posted online so when they go back to that class they won’t fall behind.”