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(NEW YORK) – As children return to school across the country, fall temperatures have not returned to classrooms.

Instead, students at more than 100 Philadelphia schools were sent home early on the second and third days of school due to the district’s extreme heat protocol and 90-degree temperatures inside and out. exterior of school buildings. It’s a major problem, especially when about 100 schools in Philadelphia don’t have air conditioning.

“It is believed that approximately 40 percent of schools in the United States have air conditioning,” said Paul Chinowsky, professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado-Boulder and contributor to the report “Hotter Days, Higher Costs: The Cooling Crisis in American Classrooms.”

Chinowsky said there was no official database or mandate for air conditioning in schools and that climate change was turning hot classrooms into a public health issue.

“Climate change will just get worse and our schools will suffer,” he added.

More districts expected to see more days above 80 degrees

The report estimates that 156 school districts across the country will experience 30 more days above 80 degrees during the school year by 2025, compared to what the same districts saw in 1970. Air conditioning is generally deemed necessary when classrooms reach a certain threshold for 80-degree-days.

“Traditionally, it was kind of a split where schools that had more than 15 to 20 days over 80 degrees would put air conditioning in, and that pretty much split the country in half,” Chinowsky told ABC News. hello america. “Today, if you take that same number, that line goes past Chicago, and schools that were 15 days are 30 days and expected to be over 50 days in the decade.”

The same report says that 13,700 schools nationwide that didn’t need cooling systems in 1970 will need them by 2025, at a cost of $40 billion.

“I think everyone is faced with the challenge of how do you find the funding for this?” said Sean Spiller, president of the New Jersey Education Association, the state teachers’ union.

But finding the funding can sometimes be the easy part; it is the construction of infrastructures that proves to be more difficult.

“We have buildings that are, in some cases, 100 years old, and when you look at the HVAC systems in them, a lot of them don’t even have them,” said Spiller, who has taught in his fair share of classrooms. hot, to ABC. New. “We don’t have the electrical infrastructure in our buildings to support [HVACs]. We have to rewire the whole school, you know, how much money does that cost?”

Therefore, repairs, upgrades and installations can be expensive and time-consuming.

Warmer temperatures impact learning, research shows

Holly Shaw sent her daughter to a college in Montclair, New Jersey, that didn’t have air conditioning and held fundraisers for fresh air in the classrooms because she saw the impact it had on his daughter.

“She was coming out pale, clammy; it was very difficult to concentrate,” Shaw said. CMG. “There were a few days when the temperatures got really high and I didn’t even send her to school.”

Hotter temperatures have adverse effects on learning, according to a study published in 2020 that showed how test scores suffered when students took exams in hot classrooms. Hot school days have a disproportionate impact on minority students, research shows.

“Suppose we have a school year that is 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average, that seems to reduce the learning rate on average by about 2%,” said co-author Dr. Jisung Park. “It’s much bigger, about three times bigger for underrepresented minorities and low-income students.”

With forecasts for September warmer and drier than usual across most of the United States, warm classrooms will continue to persist.

“It’s definitely not a problem that’s going away, so it doesn’t mean we’re hitting the panic button,” Park said. “It just means we want to think proactively about what the best course of action may be.”

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