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.