Dangerous Conditions Demand Solutions
With the start of the new school year just days away, Hawaii’s students and teachers face a familiar and dangerous foe: the suffocating summer heat.
This issue is nothing new – the public school system of Hawaii has unsuccessfully battled dangerous levels of heat in its classrooms over the last few years. Unable to find a viable, long term solution, thousands of students and teachers are forced to endure severe temperatures that can result in dehydration and heat exhaustion.
“Heat is a concern. It’s been a concern last year, it’s been a concern the year before,” Department of Education communications director, Donalyn Dela Cruz, told Hawaii Public Radio.
In response to the dangerous conditions of classrooms, Hawaii has only allotted roughly $40,000 per classroom for air conditioning and heat abatement projects. According to sources, this budget will not even cover a quarter of the cost to fix the problem.
Thus far, the cash-strapped state has not provided a long term solution. Instead, school buildings rely on fans and “cool roofs” to keep temperatures down; a short term fix teachers say does not work.
“The humidity is going to go up. The heat index is going to go through the roof,” teacher Jennifer Pimentel told Hawaii News Now this week. “We’re going to just have to tolerate it and suffer through it. I don’t think that’s adequate. That should never be an answer when it comes to education.”
Low on funds and out of time, the state government must take charge in developing a sustainable, long term solution to respond to extreme weather conditions. Some community leaders have called for Hawaii to look to other states for alternatives, such as solar cooling systems that have been successful in Arizona high schools.
Communities across the island-state have expressed their outrage; action is long overdue.