CORNWALL, Ontario – Since Saturday, Sept. 23 Cornwall and much of Southern and Eastern Ontario has been under a heatwave.
While temperatures are unseasonably warm, students are back in the classroom, many of which do not have air-conditioning.
Both the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) recognize the problem and are taking steps in the interest of the health and safety of staff and students.
UCDSB Superintendent of Schools Tim Mills told Seaway News that the school board did have procedures in place to deal with extreme weather. He stated that water bottles were being provided to students and teachers who did not have their own, that staff are trained to recognize the signs of heat stroke and that time spent outside during recess was being reduced in some cases.
Additionally, he said that some physically taxing activities like Phys Ed. were being modified to better cope with the heat and that most schools have cool places where students can go if their classrooms do not have air conditioning. He said that at no point was there talk of shortening or cancelling school days because of the heat.
Amber Laberge, Communications Officer for the CDSBEO said that her school board was implementing advice from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.
“Most importantly, students are given reminders to drink water often, and are also provided with increased water breaks, with some schools distributing freezies to students,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “Students are encouraged to wear light clothing to school, and to bring hats for outdoors.”
She also said that in some cases recess was being reduced, and after school activities cancelled.
“In some cases, at the discretion of the principal, students may be given shorter outdoor recess periods, or kept indoors for recess,” she said. “Some schools have also chosen to cancel or postpone after school outdoor activities and sports clubs.”
Jean-Francois Major, a teacher at St. Columban’s Catholic School told Seaway News that for two days during the heat wave teachers were invited to bring their students into the air conditioned gym and on one afternoon, they had a movie screening.