Wednesday, January 22, 2020
US flag

Baltimore Co. adopts new heat closure policy

The board of Baltimore County Public Schools adopted a policy at its meeting last week that will require the superintendent to close schools that don’t have air conditioning when the temperature gets too hot, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Temps during a normal summer day at BWI in Baltimore including heat indexHourly normals for BWI Airport (source: National Centers for Environmental Information/NOAA)

Specifically, schools that don’t have air conditioning, a number that grows lower as AC is installed one by one, will be preemptively closed if the heat index for the following day is forecast to reach 90°F. The district will try to announce the closure by 8 PM the night before.

The heat index is how hot it feels when relative humidity and sunlight are factored in with the air temperature. It is commonly reported as a “feels like” temperature on weather reports. More than 20 percent of the days (31 days) in a typical summer in Baltimore reach an air temperature of 90°F. The heat index is, on average, about 4°F higher than the air temperature.

But summers have been hotter in recent years, and climatological data from NOAA only takes into account years through 2010 (the administration revises the “normal” temperatures every so often, and the last time they did that, they included data only through 2010).

The Baltimore County policy only applies to schools that don’t have air conditioners installed and would not affect schools in which air conditioning units are broken in some rooms where students attend class.

In winter, meteorologists are more concerned with wind chill than heat index as the quality of weather that makes it uncomfortable.

Temps during a normal winter day at BWI in Baltimore including wind chill

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.

Md. & IL bands perform on New Year’s in...

Bands from IL and Md. once again entertained thousands of people who lined the streets of London and Rome on New Year's Day.

Howard Co. sounds an under-staffing alarm

Teachers in a Md. district have filed a grievance over missing planning and lunch periods and, as a result, putting the most vulnerable students at risk.

Top 11 school stories of 2019

We find these 11 stories to have the greatest potential for influencing activity and direction in schools for the near future.

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.