May 30, 2019

YOUR classroom heat stories

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications
how hot is your classroom?

Many teachers and school-related professionals have been dreading June.

It's hot. It’s sticky. Temperatures above 100 degrees are reported.

And New York still hasn’t done anything about regulating classroom temperatures for overheating.

Dizziness, dehydration, difficulty breathing are some of the more serious concerns. Lack of concentration, eyes glazed over are others. Nausea, headaches and irritability. Adolescent sweat glands on overdrive can make stuffy rooms even more uncomfortable as perspiration smells overtake rooms.

The stories featured below are just a few of the hundreds of submission from parents and educators about extreme classroom temperatures.

And please tell us YOUR classroom temperature story at nysut.org/heat. Your feedback helps in our ongoing efforts to address overheated workspaces and learning environments.

York Central School
"At our school there are three teachers who have been assigned classrooms that reach into the 90's on hot spring, summer and fall days. The rooms look over a courtyard and are surrounded by three large brick walls. There is no air flow at all... Last year a thermometer in one of the rooms reached 100 degrees. Our principal said she would get us a fan. Having children work in these conditions is inhumane."

Amsterdam Teachers Association
"Except for the administrative offices, the school has no air conditioning."

North Rockland Teachers Association
"Classroom temperatures (first three days of school) were well over the 90-degree mark; in fact, on one day it was pushing 100 degrees! The students have been lethargic, sweating profusely and complaining of headaches and stomach issues…On one of the days, we had no water fountain available due to rust issues in the school."

Schenectady Federation of Teachers (June 2018)
“I was 33 weeks pregnant when I began teaching in September of this past school year... During the week of September 25th our classroom temperature reached 100 degrees (possibly even higher)…It was impossible to teach and even more impossible for my kindergarten students to learn. We were sweating and feeling lethargic every day, all day. We tried our best to hydrate by taking water breaks numerous times throughout each day. ..By Sept. 29, I was in the hospital due to early labor caused by dehydration from working in the intense heat in my classroom. My doctor was able to stop my labor and immediately signed me out of work and put me on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. This caused me to unexpectedly miss an extra month of work and use sick time before I gave birth. The conditions I was teaching in were dangerous!"

Hyde Park Teachers Association
"In the beginning of the year, it was unbearable in my classroom. The students and I had a very difficult time concentrating on learning. The heat was oppressive! Fans did not help much at all with the humidity. The heat index on several of the days was very high, and it is not healthy for anyone to be without air conditioning on those days. How can children learn when they are sweating, dehydrated, and exhausted from the heat?"

Lindenhurst Teachers Association
"The ventilation is so bad in my classroom that in the winter, the room is under 60 degrees, and the district will not allow us to bring in heaters. In May and June on hot days it can reach as hot in the room as 100 degrees. There is an overhead garage door in the room I cannot open it because of the possibility of an active shooter, and the windows don't open."

Hyde Park Teachers Association
"On opening day(s)…the temperature in my classroom was well above 100 degrees. It was humid and the air was stifling. You could not breathe…I felt dizzy, dry and dehydrated. No provisions were made in my district to meet our needs. It was frustrating to see some classrooms obtain air conditioners while other classrooms remained unbearable. The students were languid and refused to read or write… The next day…once again, 101 degrees in my classroom. Students were glazed over papers were wet with sweat and humidity and again no learning was taking place. How can we get these students to succeed, learn, and pass the much- needed Regents exams when they are not comfortable? I am dreading May and June and so are the kids..."

Niagara Wheatfield Teachers Association
"I guess heat exhaustion, unsanitary conditions, and the possibility of spreading diseases is not a good enough reason to have air conditioning. The maintenance department let us borrow two huge industrial fans for the hallway but they are so loud that it is almost impossible to teach or concentrate…When it does finally cool down outside, the heat is trapped upstairs for about a week… There is no reprieve for the students or us."

United Federation of Teachers
"My classroom temp was 93 degree on 9/5/18 and 9/6/18 with the windows open and a fan running. A/C has not been working for the past five years I've been assigned to that room. Each year I request that it be repaired; still not repaired or replaced. "

Niagara Wheatfield Teachers Association
"My classroom is at the end of a hall, which receives sunlight at all times during the day. With the terribly hot days we had this year, my room was like a sauna. The humidity caused wetness on the floors, to the point of puddles… Additionally, the vents in all of the classrooms in our building are NOT working. Thus, no air is being circulated around the room… Heat can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Student health and safety is key!"

Bayshore ClassroomTeachers Association
"The highest temperature this school year that I saw in my classroom from a large teaching thermometer was 97 degrees. It was over 100 when it was on the window...I had the children fill water bottles every 20 minutes… I had one child go home because of the heat. My para mentioned she felt like she was going to pass out so I sent her to do clerical (work) in an air- conditioned room. I took an inhaler and nasal spray for asthma that usually stays under control unless there is mold in the air. I have come home and taken ibuprofen for the first three days from what I call 'heat headache.'"

Niagara Wheatfield Teachers Association
"The heat is truly unbearable for my 6- and 7-year-old students. Many students can’t keep their heads off of their desks because they are lethargic and it is simply too hot to think. I’ve asked parents to send in wet washcloths for their children to use throughout the day to cool off and keep from fainting. I personally have gone for 2 separate blood draws…and both phlebotomists were unable to draw my blood due to dehydration. Conducting 'businesss as usual' under extreme heat conditions is unsafe and unhealthy for students and teachers alike."

UFT
"I work in a building from the late 1800s and our electrical wiring has since not been updated in several parts of our school. The first few days of school were brutal with over 90° temperatures. I had no air conditioning in my therapy room with special needs students…Our poor cafeteria staff has no air-conditioning and their room gets over 100° DAILY. It is a safety hazard and mind-boggling that we are still forced to work in said conditions."

Hyde Park Teachers Association
"In September at the start of school the classroom temperature was oppressive. Perhaps it was just a minor glitch in the weather system, but as climate change is happening, the might become a common issue at the start or end of the year… Not only was it unbearable for me as the teacher, the students were in misery as well. There is no airflow, as the room is surrounded by a "courtyard" with windows that face the sun all day long. I also have no control over the temperature of my room…and the fan I have is inadequate, and too loud for students to hear what I say…. I certainly would not be going to any business if I entered the business and it was in such an uncomfortable environment."

Cohoes Teachers Association
"1) Kids fall asleep easier and lay their heads on the desks. 2) Kids are constantly getting up to get a wet paper towel to place over their heads. 3) Kids lay on the ground because the higher you are the hotter it is in the room. 4) Some kids just won’t come to school when it’s too hot."

Bellport Teachers Association
"I would just like to say that I think it is barbaric that we are expected to teach without air conditioning. When it is hot and humid in the classroom, as it is in most of June and September, students have low energy levels and are usually extremely irritable. Some downright refuse to do any class work, and it is hard to get angry about it since I am hot and irritable too. Meanwhile, every office space in the building has air conditioning, and they do not have to share their space with 25 + kids. I hope that something can be done soon to bring us relief."

Tell Your Story

Share YOUR classroom temperature story at nysut.org/heat.

Your feedback helps in our ongoing efforts to address overheated workspaces and learning environments.

NYSUT Footer
Our Voice, Our Values, Our Union