Hot classrooms prompt early departure in Ionia

Posted at 6:09 PM, Sep 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-05 18:09:50-04

IONIA, Mich. -- It was an early end to the school day for students in Ionia as school officials say classroom temperatures became too hot.

With temperatures above 80 degrees in some classrooms, the district's superintendent says their learning environment was nearing dangerous conditions.

"Unfortunately, when it gets that warm there's not a lot of learning going on," said Ron Wilson, Ionia Public Schools superintendent.

"We're letting them take breaks out in the hallway to cool down and a little bit and trying to stay focused, but it's been hot," said middle school teacher Amber Mitchell.

Parents got the message this morning, one that many of them say they weren't shocked to hear.

"I wasn't surprised after yesterday," said Michelle Castle. "My son had to do a bunch of testing in the class yesterday, and he said it was very hot."

Many of the Ionia classrooms don't have air conditioning, an issue the district says they don't have the money to address at this time. Wilson says putting in air conditioning can cost upwards of $1 million.

While this is only the third time in the last few years that classes have been canceled due to heat, it's a decision that the superintendent said had to be made.

"People don't realize is every one of those bodies in the classroom will put out about 100 BTUs an hour, so you get 30 kids plus a teacher in a classroom, and you're generating a lot of heat. Certainly air conditioning would help, but it's not something that, at least right now, is in the budget, but something we can look at."

Wilson said school should be in session Thursday. Students are advised to wear cool clothing and drink lots of water throughout the day.