BPS Keeps Kids in School During Hottest Day of the Year
Courtesy of NBC Boston
Thirteen schools in the Boston Public Schools district were welcomed back to the school year without air conditioning during the heat emergency on Sep 7 and 8.
With temperatures breaking 90 and 100 degrees fahrenheit, hundreds of Boston students in first grade through high school were not excused from school this week despite Mayor Wu’s declaration of emergency prior to the first day of school. None of the BPS schools closed early despite other school districts in Massachusetts choosing to close for public health concern, according to Mass Live.
“BPS is one of if not the largest district and they chose to keep their kids in school when it was genuinely unbearable weather,” said recent BPS alum Emmanuelle Bogomolni.
Other school districts in Massachusetts closed early or completely during the extreme weather in early September. Worcester Public School, Westfield Public Schools, Springfield Public Schools, and the Lowell Public Schools were some of the many districts around the state that chose to close early on Thursday, Sep 7, or completely on Friday, Sep 8.
Majority of students from all of the schools without air conditioning identified as either Hispanic or Black, with many also falling into the high needs category according to recent Massachusetts Department of Health data. The locations and sizes of the open BPS schools varied all over the city from Brighton to the South End.
In addition to 13 of the BPS teaching facilities lacking air conditioning, many of the older buildings have other architectural challenges. Many schools in the district have been in continuous use for over 200 years. While the buildings have been updated in many ways since their initial constructions, some do not have functioning windows or fans to combat the heat in multiple classrooms, according to students.
“I had classes in high school where the windows wouldn’t open and it was so hard to focus with the heat,” said Bogomolni.
According to a BPS spokesperson who spoke to BPR, there are three schools without AC that do not need a capital improvement and are scheduled to be completed this fall and ten schools in need of a capital improvement because the electrical system cannot support them.
The timeline for fixing the ten schools which are in more dire condition is to be determined, said the BPS spokesperson.
Boston Public Schools have recently made measurable strides towards making their facilities more functional with 103 of their schools having air conditioning already installed, according to the BPS spokesperson.
The school district has installed approximately 900 air conditioning systems in their buildings over the past year according to the BPS website. These recent infrastructure changes have been made possible through federal pandemic relief funds.
According to a BPS spokesperson, fans and water were accessible from every classroom and the school district administrators instructed custodial staff to use fans to circulate air in the early morning when it is the coolest part of the day. The district is following MIAA guidelines around weather for sports this season and did not cancel any outdoor activities in the city.
Summer 2023 was the hottest on record according to a recent NASA report. Cities like Boston in the New England region that have been historically thought of as cooler with full autumns have been greatly affected by climate change and rising temperatures.
For heat relief, the city opened emergency cooling facilities at 15 Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) community centers and encouraged parents to take their children to one of the 64 “splash pads” in the city, according to the city’s Department of Emergency Management.
“People can’t learn in that environment at all,” said Bogomolni.