Minneapolis schools without air conditioning try to beat heat

Going on six straight days of at least 90-degree heat in the Twin Cities metro area, it’s getting harder and harder to beat the heat – especially in schools without air conditioning.

With no cool air, students from Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis say the extreme heat simply drains the brain.

“Rough, I mean you can’t really focus, you just want to take a nap,” said Patrick Hott, a sophomore. 

“You get dehydrated too, so it’s kinda hard to focus,” said Jamar Prowell, a sophomore.

Minneapolis Public Schools says it now has 14 schools without air conditioning. On very hot days, the schools take precaution, like indoor recess and trying to hold class in cooler spaces when possible. Crews check indoor temperatures throughout the day to make sure it is still safe for students. The last time MPS schools closed for heat was August 2013.

“The policy says when the heat index is over 91 to, I believe, 105, for three hours per day for three consecutive days, we will consider not holding classes in those non-air conditioned sites,” said Karen Devet, the chief operations officer, Minneapolis Public Schools. “But since we weren't in class yesterday or the day before, this is really the first day of classes that we’re seeing those heat indices.” 

St. Paul Public Schools officials told Fox 9 they are following the same guidelines to decide whether to dismiss class.

At Academy of Holy Angels, the decision to dismiss classes is a little easier since there is only one high school to consider. School leaders say even with fans, plenty of water and a good attitude, the heat was too much to bear. The administration decided to school let out at 1 p.m.  

“So we’re going into finals tomorrow and this is the final study day, so it is very hot in those particular classrooms,” said Michael Kautzman, the Academy of Holy Angels athletic director. “So just to provide them with a comfortable atmosphere, not keep them there too much, we decided to call school early.”