Op-Ed: California makes it too hard for schools to shield kids from extreme heat
(National Review) A new law requires schools to have a plan in place to protect children from the dangers posed by extreme heat. But that doesn’t mean the law will help kids.
Instead, the law could cost schools millions of dollars and put vulnerable students at risk. To be clear, California is moving in the right direction. But it’s not enough. We still have a nation-wide problem of the most vulnerable students being put at risk by the heat.
This is the second year this issue has come up. And so it’s worth having the issue come up again, especially this week. And it’s worth having a look at the law.
California’s landmark law mandating heat-related plans in public schools, first passed back in 2010 and signed into law last year.
However, the law failed to address one of this law’s key requirements: making sure school districts provide safe and effective air conditioning to keep all schoolchildren cool. And without air conditioning in every classroom, teachers and classroom aides could be forced to wear several layers to their skin to keep warm.
Schools have a duty to ensure that the classroom is kept safe from the extreme heat. The law requires them to draft a plan to do so.
This plan must be based on scientific research and include strategies for minimizing the risk of heat injury on all students exposed to extreme heat, and the provision of air conditioners that prevent excessive overheating for at least the first third of the school day and for all students exposed to extreme heat during any part of the school day.
For California’s public schools, the law requires setting standards for their heat plan. These standards must include a method to determine the need for air conditioning and how it is used. The standards must also specify the length of time during which it is needed and the location and use of safe, efficient, readily available air conditioning for the entire school. California requires that all school districts have a plan in place.
But the law doesn’t say anything about what needs to