Heat Welcomes Black Knights Back To School With Open Arms and Open Windows


Students that attend the Stamford Public Schools (SPS) have been welcomed back with some surprises for all: three unscheduled half days in the first six days of the new school year. Due to the heat wave that consumed a majority of the Northeast region of the country, the school system took a massive toll that no one was expecting. Three half days at the start of the school year may sound like a dream, but students, teachers, and even the superintendent have expressed mixed emotions regarding the unexpected scheduling changes.


Students felt both the excitement and frustration of unplanned half days. Freshman Jeremy Young said that, although he has been able to adjust without too much difficulty, he thinks that in general, “full days, near the beginning of the school year would have provided a much more comfortable and easy transition into high school.”


What seemed to be a bigger challenge than the actual school day were after-school activities. Debate Captain Aron Ravin, junior, was happy about gaining some extra time to relax due to the half days. He did, however, mention that this point in the year “Is a crucial time for teams and clubs [to advertise and recruit new members] and the constantly changing schedule is making [this] planning impossible.”


Not being allowed to stay inside the building after school has, “Hindered us from being as efficient as possible when launching our fall play,” says Strawberry Hill Players President Cara Grasso, senior. Varsity field hockey player Kristen D’Ariano, senior, explained that having multiple cancellations of practice and scrimmages has made it more difficult for players to adapt to their new positions on the field before their first game.


Dorothea Mackey, the union faculty representative for Stamford High School, Business Department Head, and FBLA (the group that runs our school store, Rob’s) advisor, described how it felt being on the second floor for the majority of the school day. “My classroom is air-conditioned, but my office and Rob’s are very hot. That means that all day I have to switch between hot and cold very quickly. I know how students feel when they complain about moving between hot and cold classes.”


According to Mackey, some classrooms on this floor had a recorded heat index of 87 degrees, and with humidity that number reached 100 degrees. She stated that “we all need to be comfortable to have an environment that is conducive to learning.”


In the future, Mackey would like to see her tax money going toward improving infrastructure of the district’s school buildings rather than just placing temporary “Band-Aids” over problems. “This is a historic building; it wasn’t built for this kind of heat. Because of climate change, summer heat has been creeping into September. I went to South Africa last summer and they dealt with this by mandating that the facade remains historic so they can gut the inside and update it–it’s possible to have historic exterior but modern interior. It’s expensive, but we pay taxes for this kind of infrastructure.”


Superintendent of Stamford Public Schools Earl Kim offered an official perspective of the weather-related half days. While many may be taken aback by the seemingly new half day approach due to the heat, they have actually become pretty consistent practice over the past years. Kim said the change that may have influenced excessive heat in the buildings are new security measures. Now schools must keep windows and doors shut after hours and over weekends contributing to a build up of stored heat that would have otherwise been ventilated.


Kim said he was not as concerned with schools that have cooling centers (areas in the building that have fans or AC that students can rotate through), however “schools like Cloonan and Dolan, which are not built for cross ventilation” cause more of a concern.


Unfortunately, it would be too difficult for the district to release some schools and not others because of issues with busing and family schedules. As Kim put it, deciding to call a half day is “part science and part art.” The district has to weigh many factors and make a decision that will keep the students as safe and productive as possible.


Despite some classrooms in Black Knight Nation reaching over 100 degrees, remember that 45 minutes per class is nothing compared to the four hours some elementary students are enduring. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and maybe even consider the unexpected extra time off as an extension of beloved summer fun!