Third grader Tommy Flewellyn took his math test on Wednesday afternoon in the delightfully cool air-conditioned Naramake Elementary School library. Other parts of the school, including his classroom, are not air conditioned and weren't as comfortable as the library, however. "We're rotating the kids around to the air conditioned parts of the building," says Assistant Principal Hugh McKiernen, "so they can all get a break from the heat."
With temperatures in the mid 90s on Wednesday and Thursday, schools across the district are trying to make the best of a hot and sticky situation. Naramake, as with many other Norwalk schools, does not have central air conditioning. In fact, the only schools with central air in the district are Norwalk High, Brien McMahon, Marvin Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Brookside Elementary School. According to the district's Director of Facilities Mark Gorian, all non-central air conditioned schools have certain areas within them that have AC. But not many are classrooms. For example, at Naramake, the library, the main office, the nurse's office and one first grade classroom (formerly a part of the library) have air conditioning.
McKiernen says the schools use a "common sense" approach to mitigating the heat. For instance, there was no outdoor recess on Tuesday. Fans were running and lights were turned off in most classrooms. The cafeteria/gymnasium had large industrial-sized floor fans running while the doors were kept open to allow for a cross breeze. Students took frequent water breaks filling their water bottles up at the water fountain.
If there is a child who feels unwell due to the heat, McKiernen says they are sent to the nurse's office to rest. He estimates that three students had requested this option during the day.
About an hour before dismissal, Naramake parent Veronica Oropeza arrived with popscicles at her daughter's classroom. "The parents have been coming in all day to help cool the kids off," she says. Another parent brought in ice water earlier in the day.
With the heat wave continuing through Thursday, McKiernen says, "Tomorrow might be a bit tougher."
How are your children surviving the heat at school?
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