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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new school year is just beginning, but already dozens of western Pennsylvania Districts have decided to dismiss classes early on Tuesday because of the oppressive heat and humidity.
When the sun beats down, those of us who can will escape into air conditioning.
But as Mayor Bill Peduto’s office points out on Twitter, “the average age of a Pittsburgh school building is 87 years.”
The average age of a #Pittsburgh school building is 87 years. Many buildings were built in the 1800’s. Like many @CityPGH buildings of that age (City Hall included), full air conditioning is not available.
— Office of the Mayor (@TheNextPGH) September 3, 2018
“We have 54 buildings. At this point, about 10 of our buildings are air-conditioned,” says Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visgitis. “It is very difficult because the kids get tired. It’s hard to concentrate. It’s hard to focus, no matter how engaging a lesson is.”
Watch John Shumway’s report —
“Also, people are more irritable when it’s hot, so classroom discipline becomes an issue,” says Matt Edgell of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. “When I started seeing the pink cheeks and the sweaty bangs, I knew they were just about out of time. It’s about the health and safety of the kids. If the kids aren’t learning, the kids aren’t functioning, then it’s a good idea to not have them there.”
Which is why Pittsburgh Public Schools leads a growing list of districts calling for early dismissals, at least on Tuesday and in some cases, through Thursday.
Pittsburgh Public Schools’ dismissal schedule is as follows:
|Normal Dismissal Time||2-Hour Early Release Time|
|2:10 PM||12:10 PM|
|3:00 PM||1:00 PM|
|3:45 PM||1:45 PM|
|3:51 PM||1:51 PM|
Head coaches will decide whether or not to cancel middle and high school athletic practices and games. Families will be contacted if practices or games are canceled or rescheduled.
All other after-school activities are canceled.
The Shaler Area Elementary School will be dismissing classes at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Other Shaler schools will also be letting students out early, all because of the sweltering temperatures. However, those dismissal times will vary slightly.
Mark Swartzendruver of Shaler has two small sons, Tyler and Parker, who are in school.
“I’m actually kind of confused by it. I’ve never heard that they actually shut down for heat before,” he said. “Fortunately, my kids have after-school programs that they can go to afterwards, but if I didn’t have that option, I would have been actually quite upset with [the early dismissals].”
For Mark Scott, the Shaler dismissal time change is no big deal.
“My wife is off tomorrow, but yes, I could see how it could cause some issues with families that do have working parents,” he said.
Laurel Highlands, Mount Pleasant, Butler Area, Chestnut Ridge Academy, Kiski Area and Greensburg Salem were among the early deciders to call an early dismissal.