As the climate warms, many schools are facing more frequent hot days. And extreme heat is not just a nuisance. It can hinder learning and make kids sick.
“When you think about kids being outside on the playground running around … if they’re dehydrated before they even start running around, they could get seriously ill,” says Melissa Guardaro, an assistant research professor at Arizona State University.
She says schools often lack a formal approach to deal with the threat. So she’s part of a project started by one of her graduate students to change that.
Called Heat Ready Schools, it identifies a set of best practices schools can follow to prepare for and respond to extreme heat — for example, making sure that at least 50% of a playground is shaded.
“So it’s not just a blacktop playground and kids are just roasting out there,” Guardaro says.
The program suggests that schools provide reusable water bottles so kids can stay hydrated, and schedule outdoor activities when it’s not as hot.
Other recommendations include training teachers and staff to recognize the signs of heat-related illness, and monitoring students for symptoms.
By encouraging schools to prioritize heat safety, the program aims to protect kids as the climate warms.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media