Late summer heat impacting opening week for many schools

(Western Mass News photo)

Sizzling heat forcing some districts to pump the brakes on heading back to school.

There is one big question people keep asking: should we hold off on the start of school until after Labor Day?

The heat has been close to unbearable throughout the day and the timing is not ideal for school systems looking to get kids refocused from summer.

Many students are geared up for another year of learning, excited to get back in the classroom.

However, oppressive heat is putting a kink in that plan.

"It's just too hot in the schools," said Kelly Columbus

Many districts called for early dismissals or cancel d school altogether - all in the name of safety.

Western Mass News spoke with West Springfield School Supt. Michael Richard about the questions that run through the mind of administrators.

"It's all about student safety. Are the temps going to compromise student and staff safety?" Richard noted.

The West Springfield district lucked out. They will begin school on Thursday, narrowly dodging the extreme heat.

"Staff are here. They're working hard, they have a lot of things to do to get ready for tomorrow, so it's important to get into classrooms and chat with them and experience what they're experiencing," Richard explained.

Some schools are lacking air conditioning, or sufficient enough cooling systems to keep students and staff comfortable.

Springfield is among the districts that cut the day short.

"In the early 80s, we used to go after Labor Day," said Marcella Slicer of Springfield.

Which brings us to the big question that is popping up on many minds: should school start after Labor Day?

"We're going to get hot, hot weather - whether it is in late August, early September, or late June - so there is a tradeoff for sure with 180 day school year. You're going to experience hot temperatures and cold temperatures all during the year and we just need to be flexible," Richard said.

Richard added that a universal start date for all of Massachusetts doesn't make too much sense to him, either.

"I think it's important for each district to meet the needs of their district. Some have established patterns of after Labor Day. That's who they are and that's who they need to be," Richard said.

We want to know what you think. Should school start after Labor Day?

Weigh in on our Western Mass News Facebook page!

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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