When the outdoor temperature in Bartlett, Illinois in the western suburbs of Chicago hit 90 degrees this past May 10, the principal of Eastview Middle School decided not to shut down the boiler for the year and turn on the air-conditioning, because the forecast called for lows in the 30s in coming days. Instead, Donald Donner asked teachers to open the windows and let a breeze in. Classroom temperatures remained in the 70s, according to Donner, but a student told a local reporter, “It was hot. Kids were making fans and stuff out of their assignment notebooks.”
That was too much for the student’s mother, Rita Deany, who told the local Courier-News that the school became a “death trap”
Deany said she knows “for sure” two students passed out on May 10, including the one in her daughter’s chorus class, and that one student reported the temperatures on thermometers in his classroom hit 86 degrees.She pulled her three children out of school to cool off “for a couple hours” the next day, she said. And after several hours of trying to get information from the school that day, she said, she filed a police report against the school with the Bartlett Police Department.“My kids were dizzy, nauseous, red eyes. They wanted to go to sleep. They were worn out,” Deany said … “I’m wondering who was looking out for the children,” she said.
“Who was looking out for the children”: the ultimate weapon of intimidation. Principal Donner told the Courier-News that no students had passed out, at least not until an ill student fainted two days later, well after the air-conditioning had been turned on at Deany’s insistence.
Many generations of students have lived through warm spring days without harm; to them, the rising heat brought thoughts not of illness and death but of the summer vacation that lay around the corner. Overly protective parents appear to be far more heat sensitive than their offspring.
Even the parents of college-age students are susceptible. This spring, officials at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas decided during a brief hot spell to delay switching from boiler to AC. When temperatures in dormitory rooms rose, some students reportedly headed out to the grass of a football field for an outdoor slumber party. As far as the college was concerned, everything was cool, so to speak, until a few students told their parents back home of the lack of AC. The college was flooded with calls from irate parents the rest of the week, until well after a cool front had come through Kansas.