Parents, trustees, union concerned about hot classroom temperatures

People are concerned about the lack of air conditioning in many local classrooms.

Windsor-Essex has experienced record-breaking heat this week

Windsor broke heat records this past Sunday and Monday. (Radio-Canada)

Parents, teachers and trustees in Windsor-Essex are concerned about potentially unbearable temperatures in local public board classrooms.

Facebook group calling for air conditioning in local schools has gained more than a thousand members since Monday, with some parents commenting that students have been fainting — and even vomiting. 

One of many Facebook posts about classroom heat. (Windsor Essex Petition For A.C In Classrooms/Facebook)

Adelina Cecchin, president of the Greater Essex branch of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario says she has heard concerns from her members as well.

"They're saying that it's very difficult in terms of trying to teach, and students to learn," she said. "Its stifling, it's humid, kids are lethargic, there's exhaustion."

Cecchin said while there are rules about minimum temperatures, there are no rules about maximums.

Adelina Cecchin is the president of the Greater Essex branch of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, or ETFO. (John Van Dusen/CBC)

"Because of this lack of an upper limit temperature, there's nothing that really compels action on the part of school boards to have to address this issue of heat," she said.

"Ultimately, this is a funding issue. The government needs to fund school boards to be able to properly equip schools with air conditioning."

GECDSB trustee Alan Halberstadt agreed that school boards need help from the province to address the issue.

"You know, we have schools that are up to 100 years old ... when air conditioning wasn't even invented yet," he said. "It would be really difficult to retrofit them with air conditioning. The money is just not there to do that."

Halbertstadt said the director of education has the ability to close schools if they deem classroom temperatures to be unsafe, but has not felt the need to do so.

GECDSB has 'extreme weather procedure'

Board spokesperson Scott Scantlebury says the board has an 'extreme weather procedure' in place that advises teachers how to deal with hot weather and to communicate those points with students. He said the document covers things like adequate hydration, proper clothing, and avoiding physical activity in areas affected by heat.

Halberstadt said he'd like to see the extreme heat procedure reviewed for updates.

"We brought it up the other night [at the board meeting] but the board didn't act on it. There was ... a division in opinions."

Alan Halberstadt represents wards 3, 4 and 10 on the GECDSB. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Scantlebury said while all new schools have air conditioning, the majority of the schools in the board do not have have it.

"At any time, parents have the express right to keep their child home from school if they feel conditions aren't optimum for learning," he said.