Heatwave forcing some schools to send kids home early

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OTSEGO, Mich. — Students in southwest Michigan feeling the heatwave not just on their way to school but in the classrooms too. So school districts in Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties gave their students and staff half-days to beat the heat.

“It is very difficult obviously for all superintendents,” said Otsego Public Schools Supt. Jeff Haase. “Obviously students safety and health is our No. 1 concern.”

Comstock Public Schools, Climax-Scotts schools and Gull Lake Community schools were among the few districts that sent their students home early on Monday. Haase said sometimes the 90-degree weather outside can actually lead 100-degree temperatures inside.

“You worry about kids,” said Hasse during an interview at the school. “In education you worry about all kids. So you worry about even neighboring districts that don’t have air-conditioning and what they are going through and what they’ve been going through.”

The steamy high temperatures began last week, at the start of the Fall season. Some schools cancelled classes, others scheduled half-days while others, like Kalamazoo Public Schools, left the decision up to the parents. Mostly all schools re-scheduled or moved the start times to sporting events. Otsego was one of them. Otsego has had air-conditioning in their buildings since 2005, Haase said. But on Friday they had to make a few adjustments.

“With our home football game, we delayed the start of the game,” said Haase. “We have turf in our stadium and obviously the heat index was very high during the day and so we wanted to wait until the sun went down.”

The high school’s cross country practices also moved to mornings, he said. In the elementary schools the principals and staff were told to let kids out for recess for only 10-15 minutes.

“They are doing a tremendous job of making sure our students are hydrated when they come back in or even before they go out,” said Haase.

Like Otsego, the Goodard school in Kent County has air conditioning. However they also changed their daily routine too. Owner Kellie Custer said the kids enjoyed time outside Monday morning while temperatures were still cool while the teachers inside cranked up the A-C.

“Normally we like to be outside a lot,” said Custer. “But fortunately we have an indoor gym too. We’re going to get lots of energy still worked out and we’re going to stay inside in a nice cool environment.”

According to the Fox 17 weather team, 90-degrees temperatures are expected for Tuesday. Comstock Schools has already scheduled a half-day for their students. As for Otsego, classes will resume as normal.

“I feel their pain, I really do,” said Haase thinking of the other districts. “I feel what they’re going through.”

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