MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Our week-long heat wave has been especially hard on kids who had to go back to class on Monday.
They’ve sweated it out and tried to learn in non-air conditioned buildings. But school leaders in Minneapolis say three days is enough.
They’ve now canceled classes in 27 schools because of the heat. And the last-minute cancellation left some parents scrambling to find child care. The cancellations reach out into the suburbs, too, as Hidden Oaks and Twin Oaks middle schools won’t have school on Friday.
Minneapolis Public Schools said they sent out email notifications and calls to all parents they had contact information for — messages were left in four languages.
Some parents hadn’t even heard the news of cancellations Thursday morning. A sign alerting parents of the closure was posted on the door as the last reminder at Hiawatha Community School.
One family brought their child to what should’ve been his second day of kindergarten. For them, it was an inconvenience but they were more concerned about how their child’s school could get air conditioning.
“I think they should have AC in the summer, if they have heat in the winter,” said Maria Swim, a parent. “It’s the same risk.”
Retrofitting the buildings with air conditioning would cost between $250 million and $350 million, according to officials with Minneapolis Public Schools.
On the first day of school, the kids seemed in high spirits as they sweated out the beginning of a new school year. The district said they were hopeful efforts, like extra fans, water and ice, would be enough to keep kids safe.
But after reported heat-related illnesses in some children and protests in the community, the district says they had a change of heart.
“We know that it’s a challenge for those families. But right now with our situation, we feel like it’s the best thing to do,” he said. “The safest thing to do is stop school for two days. We feel like we need our teachers and students to have a couple days break.”
School officials say they never remember school being canceled due to heat before.
They don’t have a specific plan in place to deal with heat issues in the future but said they’ll continue to evaluate on a case-by-case basis, like they do for winter cancellations.
They’re hoping temperatures will be back to normal by Tuesday when school starts back up for everyone.