The temperature in a Patterson High School classroom hit 102°F yesterday, the second day in a row that the mercury topped triple digits at the high school that serves about 1,200 students in southeast Baltimore, the Baltimore Sun reports.
Patterson is one of about 50 schools in the city that still have no air conditioning, forcing students to bring little handheld fans—and lots of extra water bottles—just to beat the heat on this fall day. The school is scheduled to be rebuilt in the next few years, according to the school district’s construction plan, but that does nothing to help current students stay focused and learn what they need to learn at the level they need to learn it.
For some teachers, the heat is a sign of injustice. “Look at what this says to the kids in Baltimore City, the majority of whom are black or brown and are just supposed to suck it up,” the paper quotes Allison Greco, an English teacher, as saying. “It’s continually teaching them they’re not worth what someone five miles away is.”
Other school districts in Maryland have the school air conditioning situation covered, and the Board of Public Works withheld some construction money from Baltimore City in order to encourage the district to install A/C. Schools in Baltimore County responded to the BPW threat by installing A/C over the summer in 13 of 20 schools that were without it last year.
Despite highs above 90°F Monday and Tuesday, the temps are expected to become more seasonable for the rest of the week and over the next 10 days at least.
Several counties in central Illinois were under a severe heat advisory last week with the same heat wave that visited Baltimore this week.
The National Weather Service encouraged people to follow heat safety guidelines—avoiding the midday sun, staying in air conditioning, hydrating as much as they can—if possible. Without air conditioning in school buildings, a situation that is prevalent in Baltimore but not in Illinois, it just isn’t possible for kids to follow those NWS recommendations on a school day.
“In September, we can still get hot days, and that has happened recently,” the Decatur Herald and Review quoted NWS meteorologist Chuck Schaffer as saying last week in central Illinois. “Several of the last Septembers, we’ve had highs reaching above 90 multiple times.”