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Parents worry about their children's safety in MPS schools with no air conditioning

"It gets to a point where we think about whether to send him to school."
Posted at 5:46 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 18:46:05-04

MILWAUKEE — With temperatures reaching well into the 90s Tuesday, parents are voicing their concerns about how the heat is impacting their children in the classroom. Especially for schools with no air conditioning and only fans running.

Brianna Smith has two children who attend Golda Meir School, and for the past week, they've come home miserable.

"The lack of air moving around from maybe one or two fans is taking a toll on them," Smith said.

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Even more so for her son, who sometimes is in a classroom with no fan, which triggers his extreme migraines.

"He talks about how miserable he is every day," Smith stated. "In the morning he'll tell me, 'mom, I hope they fix the air.'"

So, with the heat coupled with wearing a mask, conditions in the classroom for her children have gotten worse, leading to tough decisions.

"It gets to the point where we have to think about whether we're going to send him to school," she said.

Smith told us she did receive a letter from her daughter's fourth-grade teacher saying in part, "please make sure your child brings a water bottle and ensure they are wearing light clothing."

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But she said that's a band aid on a bigger problem.

It's become such a concern, Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association President Amy Mizialko said there's a meeting between the teachers union and the district Tuesday night.

"It's important that the issue of cooling is addressed for all of our schools going forward, especially with federal dollars set aside for that purpose," she said.

The Milwaukee Public School District did release their hot weather plan.

It details steps the district is taking to combat the heat, including:

  • breaks from face masks
  • pulling shades down and keeping lights off
  • keeping windows open when airflow can help reduce temperatures

As for the condition at Golda Meir School specifically, the district released this statement:

“MPS is aware of the challenges that have come with a lack of air conditioning at Golda Meir at this time. Right now, the district has placed temporary cooling units in the building while students and staff also have access to a cool down room that includes air conditioning. Teachers are holding classes outside, which include mask breaks, and making sure that students have access to water. The air quality provided by the school’s mechanical system is safe and the system is operational without the element of air conditioning. We regret the inconvenience this has caused students and families and ask for their patience as we work to resolve this as soon as possible.“
Milwaukee Public Schools

In Wisconsin, there is no state law specifically related to heat or AC. However, Wisconsin Statue 121 requires districts provide safe and healthful facilities.

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