A hot topic

Two staffers offer their opinion over yesterday's controversial early dismissal due to heat.

A+hot+topic

Samalya Thenuwara, Taylor Shelfo, Feature Editor and Producer, Anchor

Yesterday, Aug. 30, the ICCSD school’s were dismissed two hours early for the heat. Superintendent Stephen Murley later apologized for the dismissal in an email to parents after skepticism was voiced amongst parents. Feature Editor Samalya Thenuwara and Anchor Taylor Shelfo voice opposing viewpoints on the decision.

 

Too hot to handle

Although it is a hot topic (pun intended), I am confident the early-release implemented on Tuesday Aug. 29, 2016 was called for. West High School’s ovens – oops I meant classrooms – were just too hot to handle. Let me shed some light on what I mean.

It was 82 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level at 91 percent. Those numbers only show half of the story. It may be 82 degrees outside, but what about inside our classrooms? What happens when you throw 30 sticky and sweaty teenagers together in one classroom in the heat of summer without air conditioning? Let me give you a hint: it’s even hotter.

I will admit some classes do have air conditioning. But how is that a valid excuse? Just because some of the students get to be in rooms that have an appropriate temperatures doesn’t mean the rest can be disregarded.

“Oh they’ll just stick ice in their shoes or something…”

Different parts of the school have different extremes in temperatures. There are classes that are cold enough that one could easily pull off a jacket. But some are hot enough that I’d use that same jacket to whack at the thermostat until it somehow went down. Hyperboles aside, the heat in some of our classrooms is truly amazing.

According to the Press Citizen, “23 percent of the district’s classrooms lack the air-conditioning necessary to ensure an ideal learning environment.’” That’s almost a quarter of the classrooms in the district! That’s a lot of students forced into hot classrooms.

It’s plainly unfair to keep students in such hot environments and expect them to perform to their academic potential. How can we focus when we’re too busy trying to hide our sweat stains or cool ourselves with notebooks made into make-shift fans.

Not all would agree with me. Some argue that it wasn’t appropriate because we’ve had school on days that it was even hotter. All I can say is that we shouldn’t have had school on those days either. From how I see the situation, I feel that the school board finally got it right and shortened the time students have to spend in baking classrooms. What do they get as a reward? A ton of backlash and complaints. I think they need a pat on the back for this one.

Another major complaint is that the shortened day meant ‘disrupting education’ and ‘cutting down valuable learning time.’ Guess know what else disrupts education and cuts down valuable learning time? That’s right: melting heat. I would much rather get assigned some extra homework to do from the comfort of my household instead of sitting in class where I can form puddles of my own sweat. Oh but hey, then I’d miss out on a great opportunity to learn the body’s process for maintaining homeostasis after being exposed to overheating. Darn–Please detect the sarcasm in the vicinity.

I believe the actions taken were necessary to ensure safety and comfort for all the students. A cut like this can be solved with adequate air conditioning of classrooms but until then this is the situation at hand and alternative solutions had to be considered.

 

Prioritize planning, please

Yesterday my second period class was disrupted by an email from the district informing us that school would be released two hours early. At the moment, I jumped in excitement with my friends as we planned to get ice cream to celebrate our freedom. It wasn’t until later that day did I start to question if the early out was actually a well thought out decision.

First, the schedule was immensely shortened so that my last three classes were only twenty-three minutes long, which of course happened to be the only classes I actually needed the whole hour for. If the weather is going to get that hot, there are resources to find out about it before the day of, which would give a heads-up to teachers and students to adjust their schedule around it. For example, I had an English test during a period that got shortened, and I felt like I had to rush through it in order to have it completed by the end of the bell. Had the administration looked ahead and saw that it would be a hot day, they could inform teachers to adjust their schedule in advance so that students could appropriately finish the tasks they are at school to complete.

An abrupt dismissal means a more difficult process on how to get home. I know we are in high school so half of us are legally allowed to drive now, but not all of us are granted with such a privilege as a car, and it creates a difficult situation for parents that have to pick up their kids from school while they still may be at work. By now, students have worked out a routine with their parents to get to and from school in a timely fashion; whether that be sharing a car, catching a ride with friends, the bus or parents working around their work schedule to get their kids home. Point being, with a change of plans, the parents that work typical nine to five jobs end up stressing out on how their beloved angels are going to make it home safely.

Though the schedule and transportation can be arranged, the lack of air conditioning cannot. At this point in the year, we have all experienced how our classrooms make us feel like we are locked in an oven. Therefore, you know what it feels like, and dress for it. I know your brand new jeans and sweaters are dying to come out for fall weather, but it’s still 80 degrees out and the classrooms aren’t going to get any colder. Many teachers have planned appropraitley and provide at least one electric fan in their room to control the humidity, so when you feel like the heat is consuming you, take a minute to reflect in front of the cool breeze (trust me, your teachers will understand).

Though I am not one to argue against less school or not sweating all day, if there is going to be an early dismissal, it needs to be processed before hand so teachers and parents can rearrange their schedules and actually enjoy the extra two hours instead of cramming through work and worrying about how to get home.