Newport-Mesa will look into ending school days earlier during hot weather

Students in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District could get a chance to hit the beach earlier on hot days if the district decides to implement minimum school days during sweltering weather.
(File Photo)

With local temperatures reaching record-breaking heights this week and teachers voicing concern about hot classrooms, Newport-Mesa Unified School District officials said Tuesday that they will look into implementing minimum school days during sweltering weather.

“It does have [an] impact on parents who have to arrange for child care, so we don’t make that decision lightly, but it’s something we can look into for the future,” said Russell Lee-Sung, deputy superintendent and chief academic officer.

Seventeen of Newport-Mesa’s 32 schools have air conditioning, according to district documents, and there are plans to install it at all schools, starting with those most inland, officials said.

District spokeswoman Annette Franco said the plan is to install air conditioning at about six schools next summer, leaving nine for subsequent years.

The majority of the district’s schools aren’t completely air conditioned because they were built before air conditioning was widely used. However, district officials have said many schools have air-conditioned spaces.

Laurie Smith, a retired teacher, said the district needs to find a way to accelerate the process and help alleviate sweltering classroom conditions for students and teachers.

“Kids can’t work, they can’t function in those temperatures,” Smith said.

Cynthia Blackwell, who has taught in the Newport-Mesa district for 27 years, said she saw a Long Beach Unified School District student on the news saying schools were on minimum-day schedules because of the hot weather. She urged Newport-Mesa to contact Long Beach Unified for advice.

Lee-Sung said the district contacted elementary schools Tuesday to offer help. Schools modify lessons in hot weather to avoid “heavy-duty instruction topics and activities,” he said.

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