Summer may be over for youngsters who are back in school, but the summertime heat is still burning strong.
School districts across the region took extra caution to keep kids cool in the high heat index Tuesday, with some even canceling school in buildings with no air conditioning for extra precaution.
Massillon City Schools closed Franklin, Gorrell and Whittier elementary schools for the day. Other school buildings in the district were open for class. Massillon school officials could not be reached for comment.
The Cleveland Metropolitan School District also closed 18 schools due to the hot forecast, while Mansfield City Schools closed five of its elementary schools.
The school closures around the state caught the attention of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who used the heat to urge the Senate to consider his School Building Improvement Act, which would provide $100 billion in direct grants and school construction bonds over 10 years.
"Ohio teachers and students shouldn’t have to miss out on valuable time in the classroom because our school districts don’t have the resources they need to upgrade aging schools," Brown said.
Many districts without air conditioning in their schools rely on a heat index chart from the National Weather Service when determining whether to cancel school in extreme heat.
The chart maps out the various levels of heat danger based on temperature and humidity levels. The chart shows four levels: caution, extreme caution, danger and extreme danger.
On Tuesday, the high was 92 degrees with a heat index value of 96, which is considered "extreme caution," meaning sunstroke, muscle cramps and heat exhaustion are possible with prolonged exposure and physical activity.
Both Norton and Nordonia district superintendents said they would consider closing schools once the heat reaches the "danger" portion of the chart.
Norton Superintendent Dana Addis said school officials took extra caution Tuesday and watched gym classes carefully to make sure all students were hydrated.
Industrial fans were also added in the lunch room and elementary students skipped going outside for recess and played in the air-conditioned gym instead.
"It’s definitely the hottest day we’ve had, and we are cautious, but we don’t feel the buildings are unsafe — just very hot," Addis said.
In Nordonia, where three of the six buildings have only partial air conditioning, Superintendent Joe Clark said teachers were directed to give kids frequent water breaks, to limit physical activity and to take children to air-conditioned parts of the building "for respite."
"School will go on when temperatures are uncomfortable, but not when temperatures become unsafe," Nordonia Superintendent Joe Clark said in an email to parents. "Parents know their children best. If parents are concerned for their children’s safety at school or activities, we respect their right to keep them home."
Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools, on the other hand, timed building improvements perfectly for the heat wave — the district is just wrapping up installing air conditioning in all the classrooms without it.
"To date, about 95 percent of our classrooms now have it, and the rest will have it by the end of this week," said Superintendent Tom Bratten. "That thank you goes out to our community for passing the [permanent improvement] levy to make this possible."
This summer in Akron is on track to be one of the Top 5 hottest ever. It now ranks at No. 3, but that could change after Tuesday and Wednesday are factored in. Wednesday is due to be nearly just as hot, with an expected high of 89 degrees and an expected heat index value of 95.
That rank has just a few more days to change. The National Weather Service defines the meteorological summer as being from June 1 to Aug. 31.
"Before we know it, winter will be here, and we will have this discussion again regarding extreme cold," Clark said.
Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Theresa_Cottom.