Heat prompts modified school days for some districts

August 26, 2013 (CHICAGO)

At least three districts in Waukegan, Aurora and Lockport plan to dismiss students early on Tuesday due to the high heat and humidity. Other schools in the area are making plans to keep student comfortable.

"I think it's harder for kids to learn in school. He came home today sick, saying he was sick and I think it's because he was hot in class today," said Valerie Singleton, parent.

Her son attends Brookwood Middle School, where most of the building is un-air conditioned.

While fans help, ABC7's thermometer recorded an air temperature of 90 degrees inside a classroom. They've brought in water, ice and are even offering popsicle breaks to try to keep kids cool.

"If they're feeling uncomfortable or it's getting hot like it is right now, we give them an opportunity to go to the main office, it is air conditioned," said Valorie Moore, Brookwood District 167 Superintendent.

"The interesting thing, we did hit 90 today," ABC7 Meteorologist Jerry Taft said Monday. "This is only the second time that we have hit 90 during the month of August, so very unusual."

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for parts of the state, including Boone; Cook; De Kalb; DuPage; Ford; Grundy; Iroquois; Kane; Kankakee; Kendall; La Salle; Lake; Lee; Livingston; McHenry; Ogle; Will; and Winnebago counties. Heat and high humidity are expected until 10 p.m. Tuesday.

That led some schools to operate on a modified heat schedule, which means school may close early and evening classes may be canceled. That's the case in Waukegan, and at Greenwood Elementary the lights are off and students are taking frequent water breaks.

"It's warm, yes, but it's not unbearable where we can't teach," Melissa Wise, teacher, said.

"We can concentrate, but not like when it's cold," Adaly Jimenez, student, said.

Temperatures are in the mid-80s in the classroom, so the Waukegan school district shortened the days by dismissing an hour earlier than usual. While some of the rooms have air conditioning, most do not.

"We decided to do a heat plan, a modified abbreviated day, which is essentially bringing students earlier and dismissing students earlier," Nicholas Alajakis, Waukegan schools, said.

In Deerfield, more than half of the schools are air conditioned, but Kipling Elementary isn't one of them.

"Sometimes the rooms can reach 100 degrees, which we do not want them to be in. So we ask them to go to better ventilated areas," Dr. Michael Lubelfeld, superintendent, said.

The heat will continue until Wednesday, when Chicago could get a break.

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