Extreme heat could trigger remote learning at Carrollton Elementary

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By Leigh Ann Rutledge

Associate Editor

Pandemic regulations aren’t the only thing affecting whether or not school buildings are open to students, extreme heat is  a major factor for Carrollton Elementary.

In order for students to attend school in the traditional manner, they, along with staff, are required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing.

Carrollton Schools Superintendent Dave Quattrochi issued an all-call to parents Aug. 26.

 “I want to address the heat condition at Carrollton Elementary School. I know the extreme heat can have a negative impact on student learning,” he stated.

Elementary teachers implemented Google classrooms during summer break in case the school has to close.

Quattrochi noted there are several conditions he would consider before implementing remote learning. They include: temperature (inside the building and outside), humidity, heat index and age of students.

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. If there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the humidity will be high. The higher the humidity, the wetter it feels outside. Weather reports usually explain humidity as relative humidity. Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor actually in the air, expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold at the same temperature.

The heat index is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with air temperature. Evaporation is a cooling process. When the atmospheric moisture content (i.e. relative humidity) is high, the rate of evaporation from the body decreases. The human body feels warmer in humid conditions.

The National Weather Service (NWS) website states, “There is direct relationship between the air temperature and relative humidity and the heat index, meaning as the air temperature and relative humidity increase (decrease), the heat index increases (decreases).”

A report from NWS showed at 9:53 a.m. Aug. 24, the air temperature was 77 degrees, relative humidity was 79 percent and the heat index was 79. The day reached a high of 89 degrees at 3:53 p.m. with a heat index of 90. However, relative humidity had dropped to 43 percent. Tuesday, at 11:53 a.m. the temperature was 88 degrees with a heat index of 94. The remainder of the week temperatures at 11:53 a.m. registered 78-80 with heat indexes 80 and 85.

Quattrochi has collaborated with other area schools that are not air conditioned regarding the issue.

“Please understand this is not an easy decision. However, it is an important one,” he stated.

Fans have been purchased for each classroom and select rooms have overhead fans. Since maintenance staff are in the buildings, the windows on the upper floor are left open in the evening in an attempt for ventilation and for coolness in the morning.

Teacher shave the option to take students outside if it is cooler outside or utilize the Bell-Herron gymnasium which is air conditioned. Quattrochi and the board are looking into other options, also.

If the decision is made to close the elementary building, parents would receive an all call and the information would be posted on the school website and Facebook page. Television and radio stations would not be notified.

“We don’t want to do afternoon releases because that could cause chaos for parents to try to arrange child care,” Quattrochi said. “If the building would be closed, the decision would be made the day before. “

At the end of the Aug. 26 all call, Quattrochi thanked everyone for their patience.

Long range forecasts estimate temperatures ranging into the mid-80s with humidity between 66-71 percent. 

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