Opinion

Published on November 14th, 2017 | by Nikka Arabestani

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Heat Protocol

Living in California, especially Santa Monica, almost never means predictable weather. From windy rainstorms to scorching 90 degree weather, students and faculty can’t predict the weather. But, in the cases where the temperature rises to a blazing 101 degrees on a school day, what do we do? Do we endure the heat in school? Or should we be able to go home and cool off?

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the weather in Santa Monica reached a boiling 101 degrees. An email was sent out to Samo students, along with the rest of the SMMUSD district, and they were given the option to go home at lunch. The heat can get to all of us. From heat stroke to migraines to dehydration, hot weather can do a lot to students’ bodies and their brains. Students have always complained about not having school days off when the temperature pushes into the 90’s.  Not only California, but other states and districts cancel school when it’s too hot as well. At least 20 districts — including Camden, New Brunswick, Edison and Belmar in New Jersey — announced early dismissals Tuesday due to the heat wave.

Not only New Jersey, but Missouri also is taking action against the heat. Western Schools in Jackson County announced on its Facebook Page late Thursday night that it would be dismissing early due to the heat.

“Due to the expected heat index reaching 100 degrees around noon, Western will be dismissing classes early tomorrow,” the district said. “Most students are expected to return to class Wednesday when temperatures drop to more bearable levels.” There is legislation pending in both the state Assembly and the state Senate calling for districts to set temperature limits in schools and set up guidelines on when students should be dismissed.

Samo is a big school, in which most classrooms are not equipped with air conditioning. Imagine having to take notes, listen to a lecture or learn a complex function in math with the blistering heat badgering you at every second. When the email was sent out to parents and teachers regarding the option to go home, a lot of students were pleased. However, many students were not happy due to the fact that the school required a parent or legal guardian come and pick them up from school. Lots of parents are unable to pick their kids up from school because they are hung up at work.  Schools required parents come and pick up their students because they wanted to make sure that the students’ parents were aware that kids were going home. If the school did not require a parent or legal guardian to come pick kids up, the school would have been held responsible if something had happened to students.

Additionally, no announcement was made over the intercom about the option to go home, therefore, many students were clueless until the end of the day when the heat had already drained all their energy. Many parents, staff and even students appreciate the school’s commitment to education and sympathy towards the heat and our bodies. However, students will not learn or pay attention when it is too hot. Some may argue that teachers could find cooler classrooms to move to. But is that ideal and efficient? No. So why not cancel the rest of the school day? Teachers and other staff members were probably just as sick of the heat as students were. It would be a breather for everyone: students could go home and refresh their minds, and staff would be able to take a break for the rest of the day.

Furthermore, there was a huge miscommunication between parents and staff. Countless emails and phone calls were made, and students were flooding the house offices. Staff even agreed that if the district was going to allow students to go home early, then they should just cancel school in general for the rest of the day. Causing extra chaos and confusion for staff and parents does nothing but stress everyone out. Chanee Washington is one of the house office assistants that did not think this heat protocol was very efficient.

“I was writing passes for two and a half hours straight. Emails and phone calls were off the hook. The walki-talkies were going off from calls. Students were flooding our offices for passes to leave. Parents were also upset and frustrated because they didn’t want to wait for us to write the passes. The instructions for what to do were unclear and it caused a lot of confusion. It put more pressure and anxiety obn us. It was not a good feeling because we should’ve been informed earlier and the district should’ve given us a heads up on what we’re about to experience,” Washington said.  

SMMUSD did add a side note in the email, saying that further heat protocol procedures will be discussed. The district did make a very smart move in letting the students leave early due to the heat, however, in the future it should be done more efficiently with an announcement at school.

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