Unseasonable heat leads to overheated schools

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The sudden spike in temperatures has led to sweltering classrooms in Rhode Island schools.

Many schools across the state have little to no air conditioning available to students.

Eyewitness News reached out to Rhode Island school districts to see what they’re doing to beat the heat.

The few who responded say that while air conditioning is uncommon in classrooms, they are taking steps to ensure students stay safe and hydrated.

The superintendent of Johnston School District reported that while a few classrooms have individual AC units, they are mostly just at the elementary school level. To prevent heat stroke and dehydration, they are making sure schools have extra water available to students and restricting physical activity if deemed necessary.

In Fall River and Cranston, air-conditioned classrooms are rare, reserved only for students with special needs. They too have extra water on hand, as well as ice packs from the school nurse if needed.

While some students say the heat makes it hard to concentrate in class, others say that staying hydrated helps them stay on task.

“I drink a lot of water so it is not too hard for me to focus. But, other kids have a problem with it. Like one of my friends – 30 minutes into the exam he couldn’t really focus that much and it’s kind of hard when it’s this hot,” said Jake Gauslind, Seekonk High School student.

Joseph Wendelken of the Rhode Island Department of Health says that there are steps schools should be taking to ensure students stay cool.

“If there’s no air conditioning in a school to make sure that students are as comfortable as possible, and as safe as possible, there are some things that building administrators can do, like bringing in fans to rooms and making sure windows are open letting air circulate,” Wendelken said.