Heat wave leads to early dismissal at some Utah schools

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PERRY — Now that school is back in session, some administrators were worried enough about the impact this heat wave is having on students that they decided to let them out early Tuesday.

Some schools in Weber and Box Elder county districts do not have air conditioning, making it really tough to stay cool. That was just the beginning of their concerns with the heat.

Principal Mary Heslop started to say goodbye to students just before noon Tuesday as they headed home to someplace that was hopefully cooler than inside Three Mile Creek Elementary.

"The kids, as they are coming in from lunch, from recess, they're really hot. We've been going through tons of water in the cafeteria," Heslop said.

By the time the lunch break was over, Jessica Allen said her second graders were not ready to learn.

"They're sweaty and exhausted, and it's really hard for them to focus. It's been pretty crazy, but this year's extremely hot," she said.

She said luckily most classrooms have portable air conditioning units, thanks to the PTA's efforts. "I looked at my thermostat, it's only 78 in here, and it's 12:15, so it's helped a lot."

That's still not very cool.

Box Elder Schools Superintendent Steve Carlsen said part of the problem is that it's not getting cool enough at night.

"And if it would get down to 55 or 60, we could dump all that air in at like three or four in the morning and get all the concrete and the steel cooled down," he explained.

Even first thing in the morning, there's still a lot of heat radiating from the bricks and the steel, all the concrete and blacktop around schools.

–Steve Carlsen, Box Elder Schools superintendent

Carlsen said there are plans to put air conditioning in all of the district's secondary schools, thanks to $5.2 million in grants through the CARES act. But as long as the extreme heat is here, cooling down will still be a challenge.

"Even first thing in the morning, there's still a lot of heat radiating from the bricks and the steel, all the concrete and blacktop around schools," he said. "So that's really what I see as one of our problems, we can't get them cooled down enough."

Regardless, they will do their best.


"We'll get through it. The kids are real troopers and so are the teachers. Everybody wants to be here," he said.

In the Weber District, a lot of schools do have AC, but they say even then the heat puts a major strain on those systems. That's why these half-days made more sense district-wide to avoid any breakdowns.

Both districts plan to be back to normal on Thursday.


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Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.


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