Teachers' union urges gov't to do more to cool off classrooms amid fall heat wave
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Monday, September 25, 2017 1:26PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 25, 2017 3:49PM EDT
The Toronto District School Board says it is doing its best to keep kids cool during a rare fall heat wave amid a renewed call from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario to do more to address the hot and humid conditions in the classroom.
In a news release issued Monday, ETFO urged the government to remedy the situation and even suggested that the province consider implementing a policy to close schools if the classrooms become too hot.
“Students and teachers in many classrooms are subject to unbearable conditions with temperatures over 30 degrees. That takes an unacceptable toll on teaching and learning,” ETFO President Sam Hammond said in a written statement accompanying the release.
Toronto and much of southern Ontario have been dealing with record-breaking temperatures over the past week and Environment Canada has placed many areas of the province under a heat warning.
The national weather agency says Toronto is expected to see a high of 31 C on Monday but the temperature will feel more like 40 when factoring in the humidity.
The city of Toronto has issued its own extended heat advisory, prompting officials to open cooling centres around the city.
To improve hot classroom conditions, ETFO also suggested that the government provide funding for air conditioning or heat reduction systems in schools.
Speaking to CP24 Monday, TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said it would simply be too expensive to install air conditioning systems in every school.
Currently, Bird said, only 125 of the board’s 584 schools are fully air-conditioned and the remainder have either partial air conditioning or none at all.
“We would love to be able to install air conditioning in all of our schools… we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention electricity costs, maintenance, repairs, that kind of thing,” he said.
“To be honest, it is just not financially possible now or anytime in the near future.”
Bird said staff at schools across the board are “doing their very best under difficult circumstances.”
Some of the measures teachers are taking to cool off classrooms include closing blinds, opening up windows, and using fans.
“We’ve cancelled secondary and elementary athletics events today just given the extreme heat. Usually it is going to be what’s best for each individual school. If you’ve got a lot of shade in your yard, maybe it is great to get outside and stay outside for a period of time. In other cases it may be best to stay inside where it is completely shaded,” Bird noted.
Students who are struggling with the heat or who are suffering from heat-related illnesses should notify staff, he said.
“Talk to the teacher, principal so that we can try to help you as best we can,” Bird added.
Respite is expected to come later this week, when the temperature drops off on Thursday.