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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As temperatures in the Pittsburgh region climbed towards the 90 degree mark, the doors to area schools swung open and students flooded out in search of cooler surroundings.
Of the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ 54 buildings, only 11 have air conditioning. Places like the Pittsburgh Montessori School, which first opened its doors in 1899, have never had air conditioning and the cost of installing it would be extraordinary.
Principal Kellie Meyer says the thermometers in the classrooms were pushing 90 when the students were being dismissed. The impact on concentration levels was obvious.
“Learning is a little different today but we’ll pick up when it cools down,” she said.
Teachers at the school worked hard to keep the kids hydrated, the fans were blowing, and children with heavy clothing were offered alternatives.
Amy Wadas’ Report:
Meyer says they made adjustments in the day, going through only the first four of their eight periods.
“Tomorrow, since we know we’ll have an early release, we’ll manage to do the rest of the half of day tomorrow. So they won’t miss academic time, but they might be a little sweaty,” she said.
Students leaving Shaler Middle School described conditions in their classrooms today like this: “It’s just uncomfortable,” “It was really hot,” “It’s really bad and uncomfortable,” and “It’s just not nice to learn.”
Butler Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian White says, “We have 11 schools, 10 of which do not have air conditioning.”
He was the first to publicly say over the weekend that he was considering early dismissals this week due to the forecasted heat wave. He says that was based on what he saw in his students last week when temperatures were in the upper 80s.
“They were lethargic almost, and teachers really doing their best to inspire great learning, but its tough when you’re in a room that is 94 degrees. You’re feeling really warm, its not conducive to effective learning,” he said.
So like Pittsburgh Public Schools, Shaler, Mount Pleasant, and so many others, Dr. White called for the two-hour early dismissal, and will do it again Wednesday.
Dr. White says he’s heard the laments of an older generation often starting with the words, “Well, when I went to school…”
“Our student population looks very different than it once did. We live in an inclusive society, which is wonderful, but we have students in our school with major health issues that would not have been there years ago and the heat can aggravate those health conditions,” he said.