Pennsylvania

As climate change raises the temperature in Philadelphia, so does the urgency to keep schools cool.Local news

When John Court gets a job at Emlen Elementary School in East Mount Airy, the best way to teach addition and subtraction isn’t the only thing in his head. He also has to worry about keeping his students calm.

Emlen is one of more than 100 schools in the Philadelphia school district, and about 60% do not have central air conditioning. Coats estimates that about one-third of Emlen’s classrooms have functional window units, but his upstairs classroom isn’t one.

“It’s an old building built in 1925, so it keeps the heat,” he said. “When the sun hits, the building gets hotter than the outside.”

The walls of the building began to sweat and the floors became dangerously slippery, said Court, a climate facilitator at Emren’s school, who taught math. Teachers attract fans and freeze popsicles. Courts often find that students aged 5 to 12 are out of focus and are forced to leave the class for another lesson.

“They are distracted,” he said. “You will lose more than half of your class.”

The Philadelphia school district is a dilapidated facility that struggles to keep students cool and ready to study in a warm world. Philadelphia’s public schools went out for Tuesday summer, after the spring, which brought historically hot temperatures to the city, and before the summer, which is expected to be above average. At the end of last month, the school sent students home early due to excessive heat. This was reminiscent of the rocky beginnings of the 2018 school year when the heat made students and teachers sick, and the school closed a few days earlier.

Researchers have found a link between rising temperatures and lower test scores, and that heat contributes to educational inequality. In most parts of the country, schools struggle to operate in increasingly hot weather.

Court, a 36-year teacher in the district and a nine-year teacher at Emlen Elementary School, said the problem of extreme heat in the classroom seems to be exacerbated.

“It was always a problem, the climate of the building,” he said. But “now it’s much hotter than before.”

Temperature records back him up.

The beginning and end of Philadelphia’s school year has become even hotter in recent decades, according to data analyzed by Climate Central, a non-profit research and news organization, about Plan Philly.

The average daily maximum temperature in Philadelphia from mid-May to mid-June and from mid-August to mid-September has risen from 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970.

Jen Brady, senior data analyst at ClimateCentral, said this change may sound small, but it still makes a difference in people’s feelings.

“What you’re seeing is an extreme change,” Brady said. “On average, the temperature is rising. This probably means that there are also extremely hot days.”

In fact, according to Brady’s analysis, dangerously hot days are more common in Philadelphia at the beginning of the school year.

According to Climate Central, during the last 30 years of the 20th century, Philadelphia saw only one day on average, reaching at least 95 degrees every 7-8 years in the first half of September. But in the last 20 years, the city has become very hot once every five years and once every three times in the last 10 years.

Places like Philadelphia compete with the urban heat island effect, where buildings and roads keep warm. Brady said rising temperatures are very clearly associated with climate change and that warming is expected to continue.

“It will only be higher in the future,” Brady said. “There is no reason to expect this to be slow.”

Some are worried that the Philadelphia school district is not ready.

“Our building is not equipped to manage the current climatic conditions,” said Helenjim, a former teacher and councilor who frequently criticizes the district’s facilities.

Inventory of dilapidated buildings in the district has repeatedly failed students with roof leaks and dangerous asbestos conditions. According to a 2017 report, the area had $ 4.5 billion in deferred maintenance.

The district has made some progress regarding air conditioning. Currently, 40% of school buildings are equipped with central air conditioning, up from just 27% in 2018, according to district officials. In schools without central air, some, but not all, classrooms have windows or room units. Air conditioning projects are underway at more than 40 schools, including the installation of several central air and window units scheduled for this summer, according to district officials.

The district will spend $ 325 million on the latest COVID bailouts to upgrade facilities, including the HVAC project. In 2018, the school district estimates that it will cost $ 144 million to upgrade all school buildings to air conditioning. The district is currently in the midst of a facility planning project and is expected to bring recommendations for final notification to the facility master plan to prioritize spending next year.

“We have been urgently working for the past five years to install the latest air conditioning systems and the extensive electrical systems that support them in our schools,” said Chief Operating Officer Reggie McNeil earlier this month on the district’s web site. I wrote in the statement posted on the site. “Given the average age of our school, the range of work required, the capacity and resources available, each project can take up to two years to complete.”

However, teachers union leaders say Philadelphia students are not seeing the results fast enough. Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Teachers’ Federation, admitted that the district had upgraded electrical systems at some schools, but “not most” of the building.

“To us too [union] Members bought an air conditioner, “he said. “They took them to school to install them in the classroom, and due to poor wiring, the air conditioner would turn off the lights in the building in certain places.”

For now, according to McNeill, the district will monitor the temperature inside the building if the outside temperature is expected to reach at least 85 degrees Celsius, or the heat index is expected to reach at least 90 degrees Celsius. If the temperature in the educational space is expected to reach 90 degrees, the school district will consider moving students to virtual learning.

“The future goal is to make that decision only for schools that do not have enough air conditioning systems to keep temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and to make the decision as soon as possible, preferably the day before, to minimize last-minute. It’s a mess of students, families, and staff, “writes McNeil.

Jim said he had put pressure on the district about air conditioning issues in recent years, seeing it as a matter of fairness, and Philadelphia students are in short supply compared to students in wealthy districts with more air conditioning. doing. She sees distance learning on hot days as a “temporary, emergency, last resort” and students who do not have internet access or air conditioning at home continue to struggle.

“There is no doubt that the condition of the buildings in our city should not determine the education of our children,” she said. “But what we know is that it’s happening over and over again.”

The 2017 site evaluation report for Emren Elementary School, taught by John Coats, recommends replacing the power distribution system that the report states as “over the service life” to support central air conditioning equipment. The report estimates that this will cost $ 653,254.

Five years later, spokesman Christina Clark said the district plans to begin designing an electrical upgrade for Emren in December.

Court is waiting for the upgrade. He is particularly worried about students in special education programs, students with allergies and asthma, and students who have trouble sleeping in an air-conditioned house and come to school.

“”[District officials] Keep band-aid on the problem and say you’ll get it later, “Court said. “Well, that’s why we are today.”

As climate change raises the temperature in Philadelphia, so does the urgency to keep schools cool.Local news

Source link As climate change raises the temperature in Philadelphia, so does the urgency to keep schools cool.Local news

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