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GRPS announces additional half-day on Friday due to excessive heat

Posted at 8:34 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 20:34:03-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The school year may have just started for Grand Rapids Public Schools. However, GRPS has already had a half-day on Thursday due to heat conditions.

“The good news is it got to about 90 today at the peak. But, on those 3rd floors it was more than 90 [degrees],” said John Helmoldt during an interview with Fox 17 on Thursday afternoon. “So, even with the mitigation measures we put in place with double fans bringing in cold air, the cooler air from the nighttime, opening up windows, taking water breaks, it’s difficult to beat that kind of heat.”

Helmholdt, who’s the executive director of communications and external affairs with GRPS, said the superintendent and other officials toured the buildings to assess its conditions and made sure to walk on the upper levels.

He added that 9 schools do not have air conditioning. So, they issued a half-day for all 45 schools in the district for Thursday.

“So, we’re very sensitive to wanting to make sure that it’s a comfortable environment for teaching and learning,” Helmholdt said. “We also know it’s very disruptive to go to half-days or for kids to stay home and that the conditions at home may be as bad if not potentially worse. At least within our buildings there’s adult supervision. We’ve got water fountains. We’ve got water bottles that we’re providing to students.”

Temperatures remained in the high 80s and low 90s on Thursday with humidity reaching 65 percent. So, early in the evening GRPS announced an additional half-day for Friday.

Helmholdt said students, faculty and staff's health, safety, and well-being will always be their top priority.

“We also want to remind parents that like with snow days or if there’s a severe weather situation and we remain open, you have the option of keeping your child home,” Helmholdt said. “So, if you’re uncomfortable, you think it’s not the right conditions for your child to go to school simply call the school and let them know that your child is not going to be there.”