Education

Will Centre County schools dismiss early for extreme heat? One district already has

Bald Eagle Area’s Anna Cingle has cold water squeezed on her from a teammate as they take a full team water break during the game against Bellefonte on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.  Officials had the players take a water break during each half, and had an extended halftime for the players to go into the air-conditioned school.
Bald Eagle Area’s Anna Cingle has cold water squeezed on her from a teammate as they take a full team water break during the game against Bellefonte on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. Officials had the players take a water break during each half, and had an extended halftime for the players to go into the air-conditioned school. adrey@centredaily.com

With temperatures forecast to reach almost 90 degrees Tuesday and Wednesday, some Centre County school districts are either dismissing students early or considering it.

Philipsburg-Osceola School District posted on its Twitter Monday night that there will be an early dismissal Tuesday due to “heat index.” Its cross country meet against Mount Union was also postponed.

Middle and high school students are being dismissed at noon Tuesday. Elementary school students will be dismissed at 1 p.m., according to the district.

Bellefonte Area School District is considering an early dismissal.

“With the start of school, it is inevitable that we will experience warm weather during the first few weeks,” BASD Superintendent Michelle Saylor said in an email sent Monday to school district families. “The Bellefonte Area School District has an extreme weather policy and guidelines in place to ensure our students remain as comfortable as possible. We have procedures in place to help lower temperatures in our buildings that do not have air-conditioning and most of the time this can get us through the short periods of time in which we experience these warm temperatures.

“However, with the current forecasted temperature being above 90 degrees several days this week, we may reach our benchmark heat index ..., which could indicate an early dismissal should our regular procedures not be able to accommodate all of our students.”

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If this is necessary, Saylor said, parents will be notified as soon as the decision is made, likely between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. All elementary students would be dismissed early, and secondary students would be dismissed at the regularly scheduled time.

“We hope that this isn’t necessary, however we do not want to subject our children to prolonged periods of exposure to a dangerous heat index,” she said.

Precautions were also put in place at the Bellefonte girls’ soccer game against Bald Eagle Area. Instead of playing two 40-minute halves, the teams played 20 minute quarters with 5-minute water breaks between them. Both teams also went inside to cool off during the half.

State College Area School District spokesman Chris Rosenblum said in an email that the district is not planning on an early dismissal, but is “working on some measures to make students more comfortable.”

In an email sent to SCASD families Tuesday, Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said that the elementary schools without air conditioning will utilize the middle schools’ air-conditioned spaces, like the libraries, cafeterias and auditoriums, during the hottest part of the day. That will be the plan 12:45-2:30 p.m. through Thursday. Radio Park and Corl Street students will go to Park Forest Middle School, while Lemont/Houserville students will go to Mount Nittany Middle School.

O’Donnell said end-of-day-dismissal will still be from the elementary schools.

In the high school’s North Building, afternoon music classes will be moved into the food court space in the new building, he said.

O’Donnell said Fairmount Building has several air-conditioned classrooms, and the cooler basement provides an alternative to the first floor.

The district will also be providing cold water to students, he added.

Penns Valley has air conditioning in all of its schools now, district spokesman Nate Althouse said in an email, “so fortunately we should not be affected by the extreme heat.”

The district will not be dismissing early, he said.

Bald Eagle Area School District also has air conditioning in all of its buildings.

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