Hot weather leads to school closings in West Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Record high temps across West Michigan forced some schools to close early, but thousands of students had to tough it out and some parents are not happy about it.

Multiple parents reached out to FOX 17, concerned about the temperatures in their kid's classrooms. And while John Helmholdt, the Spokesperson for Grand Rapids Public Schools, admits some classes pushed 90 degrees Friday, school was still in session.

"We share the frustrations and concerns for their children and we're doing everything we can to help address those," Helmhold said in an interview outside GRPS University. "If we determine that we've reached a certain point, we could do closures, we could even shut down the district, but it's very rare to do that."

Across town, a handful of private schools chose to close Friday or let kids out early because of the heat. But for the two dozen GRPS schools that don't have air conditioning, those kids had to bare the heat. Helmholdt says classroom readings were unusually high, which is why some parents chose to keep their kids home from school, a decision Helmholdt says is up to parents. The school district will continue to monitor the heat wave and will consider closing schools if things get worse.

"We're doing what we can to circulate the air, close the blinds, turn off the lights, and getting water in schools with regular water breaks," Helmhold said.

Helmholdt says a recent millage passed helping GRPS make improvements across the district, including air conditioning in all the buildings. But they say the goal could take up to seven years to accomplish.

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7 comments

  • George

    If these parents did not want their kids to sit in a hot school then THEY should keep their kids home. DO NOT BLAME the school District. You are the PARENT, use your brain and think for yourself and STOP blaming others.

  • Michelle

    My daughter is one of those parents who voiced her concern and she DID keep her children home today. Unfortunately other children were not so lucky and had to go sit in that hot building. So before YOU judge George you may want to get your facts straight. We were at our school today, even though our kids were not in attendance, helping to keep the other children cooled off. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

  • Chris

    I was raised in a hot classroom and I understand human progress is not for kids to have it as hard as I did. It was hard to pay attention in a hot classroom. Teacher would move us outside under a large tree but being outside opened up other stimulation to pay attention to.

  • Whatsmore

    I just would like to see more of the districts with older, non-airconditioned buildings closed. They were the ones that stayed open!! It will be really sweltering in those schools. I know. I have worked in public schools for years; air and no air. Lot of sweaty little face today, low energy, and tempers.

  • canuck57

    89°F is a record? There are numerous examples of hotter September days in Grand Rapids, most of which are in the first half of the 20th century. I too have experienced hotter weather than that in school when growing up (and I’m further north than Grand Rapids) and we certainly didn’t get sent home LOL.