Students at Mansfield City Schools’ four elementary buildings and the Spanish Immersion School returned to classes this past Thursday after a Labor Day weekend that was extended to five days by oppressive heat.
Superintendent Brian Garverick closed the buildings, none of which have air-conditioning, because temperatures in the low 90s pushed the heat index close to 100. “Due to the age of our elementary buildings and the lack of air-conditioning, the extreme heat causes an environment that is not conducive to learning,” Garverick said.
Last Friday when schools were in session during very hot weather, Garverick had reports of some elementary-age children falling asleep in warm classrooms and others becoming sick on playgrounds after lunch.
As of that day, students at Prospect, Sherman, Springmill STEM and Woodland elementary schools and the Spanish Immersion School had been in class seven days since the year began on August 23. The buildings also were closed on August 28 because of heat. All total, elementary and Spanish Immerson students were out three days.
Malabar Intermediate School, Mansfield Middle School and Mansfield Senior High have air-conditioning and have remained open.
Sherman Elementary Principal Michael Brennan said the immediate priority after the children’s return was to get them back into a routine. “We will project our joy in seeing the kids again but we will go back over our expectations with them,” Brennan said. “After the interruption of scheduled days we will essentially start over in building relationships with students, establishing routines and making sure they understand what is expected of them.”
Garverick explained that calling off school because of extreme heat is a calamity day, the same as a snow day. The district is allowed eight calamity days before any time has to be made up.
“Mansfield City Schools’ contract with the Mansfield School Employees Association states that “all make-up calamity days, if needed, shall be made up at the end of the school year. After eight calamity days have been declared by the district, beginning with calamity day nine all calamity days shall be made up with students and staff at the end of the school year. The law requires that students in kindergarten through sixth grade meet the minimum threshold of 910 instructional hours per year,” Garverick said. “Mansfield City Schools, like most other districts in the state, exceeds those hours.”
Asked repeatedly about installing air-conditioning in the aging elementary and Spanish Immersion buildings, Garverick said the results of a study of infrastructure systems in all buildings by Dynamix Energy Services of Columbus will be presented to the board of education on October 2. “We are in the process of a districtwide facilities assessment to develop a comprehensive plan to provide the best learning spaces for our current and future students,” he said. “The results of that assessment will determine the feasibility of climate control options.”
Buildings involved in the assessment and evaluation study, and the year each was built, according to district records, include:
Source: Mansfield City Schools, Photo: Creative Commons License