Several Summit County school districts have canceled classes because of the heat.
Highs on Wednesday are expected to reach the low 90s, with heat indexes expected in the upper 90s to 100 degrees.
Mogadore and Tallmadge schools canceled classes Tuesday and Wednesday in buildings without air conditioning. Those include OH Somers Elementary School in Mogadore and Dunbar Primary School, Munroe Elementary School and Tallmadge Middle School in Tallmadge.
Cuyahoga Falls City Schools held classes Tuesday, but have canceled all classes Wednesday, due to the heat.
“I think you reach a point where concentration is diminished,” said Dr. Todd Nichols, superintendent of the Cuyahoga Falls City Schools, adding the district distributed 270 cases of water Tuesday in an effort to keep students, faculty and staff hydrated. “The staff that I talked to here that have been around for a long time don’t recall a heat day.”
Nordonia Hills City School District is closing Northfield, Ledgeview and Lee Eaton on Wednesday, Superintendent Joe Clark said.
Nordonia schools Business Director Matt Gaugler said deciding whether to close buildings due to heat and humidity isn’t easy. Of the district’s six schools, three have full air-conditioning and three have air-conditioning only in certain areas.
“We struggle with the outright closing of an entire building when part of it is air-conditioned,” he said. “The principals get together with the staff and rotate the kids into the air-conditioned spaces as often as possible.”
Every 15 to 20 minutes, he said students need “brain breaks” from the heat, which often means moving to another classroom. In some cases, he said two classes may share a single classroom, filling it with around 40 students.
Because students have difficulty concentrating in heat, teachers sometimes have to adjust their instructional plans to favor more group work and physical activities than normal.
Extra water is key, according to Stacey Dailey, assistant nurse manager with Akron Children’s Hospital school health services. She said hydration is of utmost importance and students should be given a five to 10-minute rest break every 20 to 25 minutes in school and be permitted to have water bottles in the classrooms.
“We want these kids to stay hydrated,” Dailey said. “That is the main thing because as they sweat they need to replace their body fluids.”
Common symptoms nurses have been seeing in school health clinics across the region include cramps, dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue and headaches. Asthmatics are a particular concern, Dailey said, adding they tend to use their inhalers more and some parents even request for them not to participate in physical education or recess when the temperatures are high. She said any kid who is having a bad enough reaction in the clinic they recommend the student go home. Dailey said nurses have seen “a few students pass out from the heat” and seen students vomiting in the clinics over the past week.
As far as learning Dailey said students are more irritable in the heat and have difficulty concentrating.
“Also, if they are coming to the clinic to see the school nurse or the medical assistant, then they are losing class time,” she said. “If they are experiencing symptoms they aren’t able to be in a class and learning they are coming down to the clinic and leaving class.”
When it comes to prevention Dailey said she recommends less intense classes, especially for outdoor physical activities and the frequent fluid breaks. She cautions parents to dress students in light-colored clothing and to be certain to inform coaches of any history of heat-related illnesses so they can be aware of what to watch for during practices.