Excessive Heat Endangers Students and Concerns Parents

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CALEXICO – Students exposed daily to three digit heat numbers with no access to cooling centers within the Calexico Unified School District schools had parents raising an alarm. Several parents attended the CUSD School Board meeting on September 10, to voice their concerns in addition to requesting an immediate safety plan for all schools within the CUSD.

“My son is exposed daily to the high temperatures without access to the library unless he has a library card. They cannot hang out in the cafeteria or any other cool place either. I’m not sure if you plan to put up shades, but with the excessive heat even those will not help,” said concerned parent Pablo Virgen.

Virgen’s son is a fourth grade student at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.

“Schools in Los Angeles, Pomona and Phoenix have a mandatory policy in place that states students must be kept indoors when temperatures are above 90 degrees,” explained Virgen.

Water fountains located outside of the schools dispense hot water caused by the excessive heat and students who do not take water bottles from home are forced to drink it, explained another parent.

Most of the elementary schools have limited shade of stand alone shades and trees, therefore students are exposed 80 percent of the time in direct sunlight, the parents said.

“I am extremely concerned for the well-being of my children. The heat is excessive and they are not permitted to cool off in the cafeteria nor the library during recess and lunch. Already there have been two cases where students have vomited in the classrooms due to dehydration during recess,” said Maria Gonzalez, parent.

“At my children’s schools, igloos containing fresh water are made available to students however that isn’t enough” added Gonzalez.

Water coolers and shades were ordered by the CUSD in 2014 for the 2015 school year.  As of September 10, neither had been received nor was a delivery date made available.

“For years I have been asking the board to create a safety plan which is still in the making. I hope that we make this a priority. We need to communicate (heat safety) to our kids, citizens, and staff” said Lorenzo Calderon Jr.

“I have visited a few schools where principals have taken it upon themselves to set up cool zones and I commend them for that and encourage others to do the same until the safety plan is in place,” added Calderon Jr.

Ciro Calderon, president CUSD Board of Trustees agreed to visit schools the week of September 14, and evaluate each one independently of their needs.

The board of trustees agreed to expedite the safety plan and notify parents of the measures they taken.