Extreme Heat Takes Its Toll on NHS
By Brad Arata
The lack of air conditioning in classrooms at Novato High has become a major issue as the recent heat wave took Novato by storm. During a recent heat wave, Novato High was forced to shorten a day to maintain a safe environment for students. The extreme heat has created a safety issue as well as an interference to academic opportunities for students.
The minimum day caused some teachers to change their agendas, sports’ practices to be cancelled, and rearranged students’ schedules.
Throughout Novato High, there is no air conditioning in the classrooms outside of the portable sections. Last month, temperatures had risen a substantial amount, reaching up to 106 degrees. These extreme conditions caused the district to make September 1st a minimum day.
Some teachers were forced to alter their agendas that could have been vital to their unit plans. AP US History teacher Tim Mahoney was forced to make adjustments.
“I just kinda cut my lesson in half,” said Mahoney. “What I was gonna do, I did the same thing I just cut it in half.”
When Mahoney was asked if purchasing air conditioning was worth it he said “I do not (think it’s worth it). It would cost several millions of dollars, just for a couple of days of use.”
Although, some teachers disagree with Mahoney saying that air conditioning is a necessity if these heat waves continue to become the norm.
Physiology and Biology teacher Douglas Addis was on the original board that decided not to purchase air conditioning.
“So when we originally found out that there was a bond measure that was passed, we were asked what we wanted. I did not vote for air conditioning in the classrooms,” said Addis. “My reasoning was that there just wasn’t enough hot days to make it worthwhile to have air conditioning, and I still feel that way. If we only had 4, 8, 10 days of really hot weather a year I don’t think it’s worth it to have air conditioning in classrooms, but if the new normal is more than that it makes me rethink.”
So, are these temperatures the new normal? According to a New York Times article, studies do show that over the years summers have been getting hotter, showing evidence of a significant rise in extreme heat days.
The same article also attached a simulation that showed the rapid rise in amount of hot days since the 1950s. The simulation showed the amount of extreme heat days rising to an unprecedented amount that was virtually unheard of in the 50’s.
Many scientists believe the recent heat will start to become the norm in the near future.
Along with disrupting teachers, students had some trouble staying on task because of the intense heat wave.
Novato High sophomore Jack McMann has been outraged about the lack of air conditioning.
“I feel like because I don’t have air conditioning, it makes my work quality worse because I am more tired and don’t really wanna be in class. Therefore my work is worse than it would be in a more comfortable situation,” said McMann.
McMann described how he is drained when it is so hot and it tires him out when he tries to focus. McMann and many students struggle to focus on school work when it is so uncomfortable and hot in NHS classrooms.
When asked if it impairs his learning, McMann said, “Yes, because I am not in a comfortable learning environment.”
Several students at the school claim that purchasing air conditioning would be worth it and it would be in the district’s best interests to prioritize the needs of the students rather than worry about the costly prices.
David B. South on the website Monolithic.org states that purchasing air conditioning would cost a fortune, about $3,000 to $4,000 per classroom, but the path that we are on causes air conditioning to be a necessity. Although these may not be the specific costs at Novato, it puts the price of these units into perspective. The Studies prove that this heat wave will continue to progress over the years and if we fail to take action now, the learning ability of students at Novato High will continue to be disrupted.