With unbearable heat wave, teachers demanding AC as classrooms are only getting hotter

Lyanne Melendez Image
Friday, September 9, 2022
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Teachers are saying that HVAC systems are needed, and data shows more districts will need to invest in them as classrooms are getting hotter.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As students and teachers can attest, classrooms are getting hotter. A recent report found that more than 13,700 public schools in the US that did not need HVAC systems in 1970 have installed or will need to install them by 2025.

Three teachers in Oakland sent ABC7 news photos of their thermometers and thermostats.

At 8:28 Tuesday morning, it was 76 degrees outside and almost 81 degrees in the classroom. Another Oakland teacher recorded 85 degrees indoors.

It's been a long unbearable week at those schools that never really needed air conditioning.

"It's 11:20 right now and it's currently 80 degrees inside my classroom," said Olivia Udovic, an Oakland kindergarten teacher.

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She even showed ABC7 video of her classroom as her students were lying on the carpet.

Hotter temperatures have an adverse effect on learning.

"It's definitely hard for them to focus and really connect and absorb the current curriculum that I am still trying to teach," added Udovic.

At Pinole High Valley High School, at least 21 staff members called in sick on Wednesday when the air conditioning system failed to work properly, which has been an ongoing problem.

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A teacher recorded the temperature inside a classroom, 88.5 degrees. The problem has now been fixed.

"Right now what we can do is we can do our best to plan for the next time when a big even like this happens," explained Ryan Phillips, communications director for the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

According to a report by the Center for Climate Integrity called "Hotter days and America's classrooms," more than 2,600 school districts have now been added to the list of those that will experience at least 32 days during the school year of 80 degrees or higher by 2025. That's a 39% increase since 1970.

Thirty-two days over 80 degrees is typically when HVAC systems are installed. Looking ahead, a costly proposition for any school district.

"We need to prioritize putting our tax dollars into the learning conditions of our students," insisted Udovic.

Lawmakers in Sacramento are working on eventually putting a multi-billion dollar bond measure to install new HVAC systems at school facilities.

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