BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore County Public Schools reversed a decision on a controversial school policy that closes schools without air conditioning on hot summer days.
The heat closure policy was passed just last year, but Tuesday night, it was decided the policy was not necessary.
Some parents say open windows are simply not enough for students in sweltering Baltimore County classrooms.
“It’s pretty tough in there,” said one parent. “He comes home soaking wet.”
There are 13 Baltimore County schools still without air conditioning this fall, but the school board voted to eliminate a policy requiring all non air-conditioned schools to be closed when the forecasted heat index would reach 90 degrees by 11 a.m.
“These parents are forced by law to send their children to school in these hot conditions when these classrooms are 10, 20 degree heat index higher than outside,” said Lily Rowe.
This doesn’t mean schools will have to stay open on hot days, but it does mean the superintendent has to use discretion and decide when to close them.
All Baltimore County schools are expected to have air conditioning by 2021.
This is not enough for some board members.
“It is dangerous,” said board member Kathleen Causey. “It does not allow the students to focus on what they’re learning, especially as we move into the testing time frame of May.”
Board member David Uhlfelder tells WJZ the policy was unnecessary to begin with.
“I believe the superintendent is a very knowledgeable person, compassionate person,” said Uhlfelder. “And I do not believe that we’re putting our children at risk.”
Some parents vow they won’t leave those decisions up to someone else.
“Whether they keep it open or close, I’m going to make the decision to do right for my child and make sure he’s comfortable in his learning environment. And if that’s not happening, he stays home,” said parent Dayana Bergman.
There will be no public comment period on this policy, but parents say they’ll continue to push for portable air conditioners.