Temperatures Still An Issue For Some CUSD Classrooms - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Temperatures Still An Issue For Some CUSD Classrooms

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 1:38 pm

It felt like a mild summer and going into the school year, it seemed like we might not need to worry about heat days. Then, September came and brought heat advisories over the last week. While many residents might find the heat tolerable in their homes, the heat conditions at the Coronado schools are not ideal.

According to Coronado schools’ superintendent, Karl Mueller, “There is a perception that, as a beach community, our classroom temperatures benefit from the constant coastal breeze. In reality, our predominantly redbrick buildings attract and retain heat. During periods of dry heat, Santa Ana winds, or humidity, only hot air is circulated causing our learning environments to reach temperatures in the mid-80s. The heat is compounded when you consider the addition of 25-35 warm bodies in each classroom.”

In 2016, the governing board of the Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) formed the Committee to Analyze Student Learning Environments (CASLE) to study the impact of CUSD heat conditions on student learning and to propose strategies for remediating the conditions. After studying ideal conditions for learning, the CASLE committee set three goals for CUSD classrooms: “Reduce the temperature of every classroom to 78 degrees or less on 97% of school days; Provide an air ventilation system that positively impacts Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) by striving to keep the CO2 level in each classroom below 1000 ppm; Investigate and install systems that can reduce classroom humidity levels to not greater than 65%.”

Some progress has been made over the years to reach CASLE committee goals. Some classrooms received high-tech ceiling fans and some solar blocking film on the windows. Still others were outfitted with “split-system” air conditioning units. Nonetheless, a number of classrooms at the school are still too hot.

Both parents and students have commented on the heat in classrooms. According to one Coronado High School student, “Some class rooms are ok. But others are insanely hot … It’s distracting.” Additionally, a parent of a middle school student said her students looks forward to getting “a prime seat in one of the classrooms because it is in front of a fan.”

The warmth of the classrooms is not merely an issue of comfort. In fact, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows the impact of heat on student learning by examining the relationship between average PSAT scores of students and the number of high temperature days (those over 89 degrees) during the 365 school days prior to the test dates. It found that scores were worse for students who had more high temperature days. Moreover, even including temperatures below 89 degrees, there is a direct link of a one percent decline in student learning for every single degree increase in temperature. The good news, according to the study, is this: “[F]irst measures of school-level air conditioning penetration across the US suggest such infrastructure almost entirely offsets these effects.” So, the problem for Coronado is fixable, should the schools be able to continue to cool rooms that are still too hot.

Although prior to this summer, the CUSD was able to add cooling units in the most severely affected rooms, Assistant Superintendent, Donnie Salamanca, says that this past summer, there was, “a full plate of summer projects including the new roof and turf at CHS. No split systems were installed over the summer.”

With regard to the heat situation, Mueller says, “Fortunately for us this typically only impacts a handful of days at the beginning and end of the school year. On these days, we encourage our students and staff to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated; and recommend for our families to acquaint themselves to our CUSD Heat Day Guidelines (available on our website).”

Temperatures are forecast to decline over the coming week.

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