Education officials pressed for solutions after teacher hospitalized for heat exhaustion

Local News

The hot and humid weather has taken a dangerous toll at our schools.

A teacher at Ewa Beach Elementary School drove herself to the hospital Tuesday for heat exhaustion.

For weeks, KHON2 has been following the efforts to keep students and teachers cool while they’re at school.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association told KHON2 it plans to meet with the state Department of Education and lawmakers this month to work on a solution to cool down the classrooms.

“Our children deserve better. They deserve an environment that they can focus on learning and not have to focus on the heat,” said HSTA president Corey Rosenlee.

Rosenlee says he wants to bring together the major players and bring down the cost to find a solution to hot classrooms.

“Right now, each year we are spending $2 to $3 million on air conditioning and the current budget they said is $1.7 billion. At this rate it could be a couple hundred years before we get to them,” he said.

When it comes to air conditioning, Ewa Beach Elementary is first on the priority list, followed by Ilima Intermediate, which is also in Ewa Beach. Campbell High, Aikahi Elementary and Kaimiloa Elementary round out the list.

In an email, a DOE spokesperson said workers have installed roofing insulation while an electrical upgrade is being done at Ewa Beach Elementary. Air conditioning can’t be installed until that upgrade is completed. Ceiling fans have also been installed in each classroom.

Derek Santos, Ewa Beach Elementary vice principal, says teachers are keeping track of how hot it is.

“We have had a couple of parent concerns, so we are working with the parents and encouraging students to have water bottles and stay hydrated in school,” he said.

Santos says even though the school is on the priority list, he doesn’t know if all the classrooms will be air conditioned.

“We are allotted $2 million from the state. Hopefully we will see how far that $2 million can go,” he said.

Rosenlee is pursuing the option of heat days and is suggesting the DOE use solar air conditioning.

The DOE encourages staff and students to keep hydrated and report and illnesses to the school administration.

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