80% of Windsor-Essex public schools are not fully air-conditioned as heat warning continues

Here's how students are being asked to keep cool in the midst of a back-to-school blast of heat.

Students encouraged to bring water bottles, loose clothing to keep cool

Students have to find a way to keep cool in school during this blast of heat.

Students and staff are getting a warm welcome back to school this week as the Windsor-Essex region wallows in a heat wave.

Certain parts of the day could have felt like 42 outside with the humidex, according to Environment Canada. 

"The heat hasn't really built up too too badly in the building just yet but it's definitely warm upstairs, on the third floor," said Christina McKibbon, a teacher at Queen Victoria Public School.

McKibbon said there are fans in classrooms and kids are taking water breaks to keep hydrated. 

Greater Essex County School Board spokesperson Scott Scantlebury said only 20 per cent of schools are fully air conditioned. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Lack of air conditioning 

The Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario has created a task force to look at the problem of hot classrooms in the province. 

McKibbon and another teacher, Jamie Lamb from D. M. Eagle Public School in Tecumseh, presented the issue at the union's annual meeting earlier this summer.

One problem is the aging infrastructure, according to a spokesperson for the Greater Essex County District School Board. 

"We have an extremely old inventory of school buildings and only about 20 per cent of our 70 schools are actually fully air-conditioned," said Scott Scantlebury.

Cool rooms and re-usable water bottles

Scantlebury said the board has been "very successful" over the last 15 years in getting the Ministry of Education to approve the replacement of older schools with full air-conditioned buildings.

The old buildings that aren't getting replaced have been outfitted with cool rooms to keep students away from the heat. 

Queen Victoria Public School is an old building built in the 20s without air conditioning in the classrooms. (Google Maps)

"Sometimes when those cool rooms have availability we can move an entire class down there," he said. 

McKibbon's school is one of the ones without full air conditioning and said students can find cooler conditions in the library, staff room, front office and a special education room.

She said that Tuesday wasn't too bad of a day with the heat but did notice some students apparently affected by the high temperatures. 

"There are kids complaining that it's not comfortable and having to take a lot of water breaks."