GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Projected high temperatures are being cited for at least four Grand Rapids-area schools to close or have half days Friday.
Hope Academy of West Michigan and NorthPointe Christian School’s elementary campus are closed. Hope Academy says ambient temperatures in classrooms were above 100 degrees.
NorthPointe’s elementary campus doesn’t have air conditioning. However, its daycare services do, and those will still be open.
Grand Rapids Christian Elementary and Middle schools will have a half day of school due to the heat. This affects the Iroquois and CRCMS campuses only. All other Grand Rapids Christian campuses have full days.
Temperatures are projected to be as high as 92 degrees Friday.
As temperatures outside reached into the 90s Thursday, some Grand Rapids Public Schools classrooms felt the heat, with one reported temperature at around 86° at Campus Elementary. GRPS schools plan to be open on Friday and have a plan to keep students cool.
“We certainly did receive a few complaints,” says GRPS executive director of communications John Helmholdt. “It was a warm day and we have an action plan. This is not the first time we’ve had a really warm, late summer/early fall day.”
GRPS has 53 schools and less than half them are air-conditioned, Helmholdt says. To deal with the heat, teachers and students make more time for water breaks and keep the air circulating in the buildings.
“Teachers are trained to look out for those signs [of heat exhaustion],” Helmholdt said. “That’s why we do what we call frequent water breaks, so if it’s really hot they will do more interruption of instruction so students can take a break and get some water. We may have them go out of the classroom and into the main office, and in some instances, if we know the child isn’t feeling well, we’ll call mom and dad and tell them to come pick them up.”
Helmholdt said the school defers to the parents if they choose to keep their children home because of harsh weather.
“It’s no different than a snow day, where there are times when the district may choose not to close, and if the parents are not comfortable with those weather conditions, then they can keep their children home, that’s completely up to them,” Helmholdt says. “Our best-case scenario is to keep the child in school on time every day ready to learn, and missing a day of instruction can cause a kid to get behind.”
Part of a $175 million bond passed in 2015 calls for the installation of A/C units in many schools, as well as other improvements. Helmholdt says part of the A/C installation will begin this fall.
Helmholdt says they’ll have crews monitoring conditions in their buildings Friday before school starts.