Chicago weather: School closings after heat shortens day in suburbs

August 27, 2013 (AURORA, Ill.)

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Suburban schools from Forest Park to Grayslake and Joliet closed early. Chopper 7 HD flew over Lyons Township High School's north campus in LaGrange. A power outage and concerns about the heat was the problem there. Students left that school around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Two schools in Grayslake School District 46 were also closed Tuesday because of the heat. They are the Woodview School and the Meadow-View School. Officials say both of those schools will have just half a day on Wednesday and students will be dismissed at 11 a.m.

Students poured out of Wicker Park's Josephinum Academy at noon on Tuesday. Like many other schools, most classrooms here don't have air conditioning.

"The first half of the day is not so bad. It's when the sun rises above those buildings in the south that the building starts to heat up," said Michael Doherty, president, Josephinum Academy.

Soaring temperatures resulted in early dismissals all over the Chicago area including at West Aurora's School District 129. While chilled water was delivered to students, officials say temperatures inside the buildings were clearly going into the danger zone.

"It's actually kind of unbearable, like it's hard for me to focus and to do what the teacher asks me to do because, you know, I have to sit there in the heat," said Kyle Gottberg, student, West Aurora High School.

Still, most area schools offered a full day, albeit with some changes.

At Wilmette's Romona Elementary School, fans were turned on inside the classrooms, every child had a bottle of cold water in front of them, and outside recess was replaced with movie time inside the air-conditioned gym.

"I'll teach them math using the computers and read them a story in the library. Just using every place that's cool that they can chill out a little bit and relax in," said Sandy Karwowski, teacher, Romona School.

"The sun is directly pointing at our classroom so it gets really hot so we have to sit near fans to be cool or drink water," said Riley Berge, 2nd grader, Romona School.

School districts in Waukegan, Aurora, Lockport and Joliet were dismissing students early, and both Proviso High Schools were doing the same. Two schools in Grayslake were closed all together Tuesday.

Chicago Public Schools were not closing early Tuesday, but officials said they had cooling plans in place. According to administrators, extra fans were brought into school buildings with no air conditioning.

Giant drum fans hummed in the halls of West Aurora High School as the mercury rose in the classrooms.

"You don't feel like doing anything at school, I guess. I don't feel like working. You feel like going home," said Tony Patino, also a student.

Most of the buildings in West Aurora School District 129 are not fully air conditioned. So, officials called for an early dismissal Tuesday. Temperatures were expected to soar into the mid 90s.

"We're in the business of teaching and learning, and when it gets to triple digit heat index in the classroom, there's not going to be much teaching and learning done. So, it's better that the kids are safe and our staff," said the school district's Mike Chapin.

"I'm glad because my last period, we get out at 2:57. By the time I get in there, it's too hot. It's way too hot," student Mylesha Coleman.

Chilled water was delivered to schools in District 129 by the for students to stay hydrated. District officials say they looked at the heat index, which indicated temperatures inside the buildings would be in the danger zone, and they decided it would be best to send students home before noon.

"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.

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 were expected until 10 p.m. Tuesday.

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