WINCHESTER – Temperatures hit all-time September highs last week, and the issue turned political in provincial schools.
While teachers and students suffered in the sweltering heat, Premier Kathleen Wynne told her Queen’s Park colleagues she, too, was feeling it.
In an address, she noted that not all of her legislative offices have air conditioning, nor does her home.
The hot conditions in many schools came after temperatures sat in the low 30s, but the humidity pushed the feeling much higher.
Ontario PCs and teachers’ unions called on the province to come up with heat-relief plans.
Party leader Patrick Brown made repeated calls for maximum temperatures for schools to be instituted.
“This isn’t just a Toronto problem – the extreme heat is impacting students across Ontario,” he said in a statement issued last week. “Why won’t the premier show leadership and mandate a maximum temperature for schools… The Liberals have said this is a decision for local school boards, but that doesn’t sound like leadership to me.”
In the Upper Canada District School Board, where most schools don’t have full air conditioning, several precautions were put in place during the extreme weather.
Andrea Walasek, the board’s temporary manager of communications, told the Winchester Press that a number of steps for school administrators and staff are in place, including continual announcements about staying hydrated, providing cool down locations in areas of schools that do have air conditioning, recognizing signs of heat stress, and other preventative actions.
“In addition to this, there are various environmental controls that we consider, including opening doors and windows, and using fans, blinds and curtains to reduce heat within the school,” she said.