Some students and teachers feeling the heat as new school year begins

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It’s the first day back to school for many kids across the state, but while some went back to air-conditioned classrooms, many others did not.

It’s been three years, since lawmakers pledged $100 million dollars to help cool schools across the state, however some kids and teachers are still struggling with hot classrooms.

AC units have already been added to more than 1,300 classrooms, buut Kalaheo High School science teacher Micah Pregitzer’s classroom isn’t one of them yet. He says his students struggle with the heat, especially in the back to school months.

“Students will come in in the afternoon and already as soon as class starts. They’re dripping in sweat, and they’re drinking water. They’re going to the sink to splash on their faces or get a cool paper towel to sort of cool themselves down,” said Pregitzer.

“When there are hotter days, students are lethargic. They’re just hot and tired and worn out and drained.”

Micah Pregitzer, Science Teacher

In his science classroom, he teaches anywhere from 20 to 30 students. He says they have fans to help things cool, eight overhead that came with the classroom and two floor fans that were donated.

“The fans definitely do help, but toward the end of the day with the motors, and 30 plus adolescent bodies in there, it’s pretty much just blowing hot air around,” said Pregitzer. “Overall the kids are like excited when they have a class in the afternoon that has AC in it as opposed to one of the classrooms that don’t.”

The Hawaii Department of Education said:

“Heat abatement is a high priority for the Department.”

Hawaii Department of Education

They also said, “We are internally monitoring classroom temperatures to help facilitate decision making.”

The DOE has received a total of $10 million dollars for Health and Safety Improvement Projects, which includes heat abatement work.

However, Pregitzer, believes that something needs to be done to cool more classrooms more quickly.

“If we are not giving them a proper education, which also includes, a proper environment, thats conducive for the learning, I don’t think that we’re able to do that nearly as well as we should be able to.”

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