Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — It’s been a hot start to the school year and students at 18 elementary schools, nine junior highs and three high schools have been feeling the heat.
Until this week, temperatures have been unusually high not only outside, but inside those Davis County schools that lack air conditioning.
“It totally affects learning,” said a teacher from a Bountiful elementary school. “Students have a hard time concentrating. They’re hot and tired and it’s hard to listen.”
School began a week earlier this year, and while the first two days had moderate temperatures, the weather was hot for most of the next two weeks.
Kids have been encouraged to wear light clothing and can keep water bottles at their desks, said John Sheffield, elementary school director for Davis School District.
In addition, the district “purges” the buildings each night, he said, opening vents and turning on fans to bring the cool early-morning air in and blow out air heated from the previous day. Temperatures this year haven’t cooled as much at night, however, he said.
Some rooms have swamp coolers, but those are not as effective when the weather is humid, as happened last week.
Almost two-thirds of schools in the district – those that are new or that have undergone significant renovations – have air conditioning. Several others have air conditioning in some areas.
But the days can be long in those that don’t.
One junior high teacher said rooms facing direct sun heat up early in the day. Fluorescent lights can also add to the temperature, as does the sheer number of students. She said temperatures rose 10 degrees during a class period with 44 students.
“They’re not energetic,” she said. “They’re hot and tired.”
An elementary school teacher said she felt like she does after going to the gym, after setting up her classroom even before students arrived.
“It’s hard to concentrate,” she said.
“They’re too hot to learn,” said another teacher in the same building. “They need to be able to have their minds on learning, not on their comfort zone.”
A later start would not all together prevent the uncomfortable seasonal heat inside buildings, said Sheffield, since temperatures in spring can also get hot.
“We want the environment to be best for learning to take place,” he said of the district’s attempts to keep buildings and kids and teachers cool. “If weather is an issue, options are given at each school site.”
Temperatures are forecast to remain in the 80s for most of the next 10 days.
Future air conditioning improvements would have to be financed by a bond, said Sheffield.