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Heat wave means shorter days at District 428 elementary schools

Coy Richards stops traffic for students and their parents crossing East Taylor and South Seventh streets outside Founders Elementary School in DeKalb after an early dismissal Monday afternoon because of the heat.
Coy Richards stops traffic for students and their parents crossing East Taylor and South Seventh streets outside Founders Elementary School in DeKalb after an early dismissal Monday afternoon because of the heat.

DeKALB – With today’s forecast calling for a high temperature in the 90s, students at five DeKalb School District 428 elementary schools with no air conditioning or partial air conditioning will be dismissed at 1 p.m.

It will be the second consecutive day that students at Malta Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Littlejohn Elementary, Jefferson Elementary and Founders Elementary schools have been dismissed early because of oppressive heat in the school buildings.

District Superintendent Jim Briscoe said that after seeing the red-cheeked faces of students as they were dismissed Monday, he was confident the early dismissal plan was the right decision.

“I was at Lincoln Elementary helping with bus duty and they actually came up and thanked me,” Briscoe said. 

Today’s forecast calls for a high of 94 degrees, the National Weather Service said, although temperatures are expected to plunge by the end of the week.

Some area schools are keeping students cool by sharing rooms with air conditioning or canceling outdoor activities in some cases. 

Briscoe said the District 428 leaders wanted to be proactive in dealing with the rising temperatures after reading weather reports. On Sunday evening, the district alerted families about the changes to its schedule so they could make child care arrangements ahead of time. 

Briscoe said it’s difficult for schools to function in uncomfortably hot conditions.

“It was extremely difficult for teaching and learning the days we had a heat index over 100 [degrees],” Briscoe said. 

Jamie Enderlen, National Weather Service meteorologist, said the hot weather this week came from winds traveling from west-central Missouri that pushed warm air into the area.

She said she expects the weather to become increasingly cool by the end of the week, with temperatures in the 60s by Friday.

Monday’s weather wasn’t hot enough to merit a heat advisory, which are given out when temperatures reach 105 degrees, she said. 

Students are not being dismissed early at Sycamore School District 427 this week, but district Superintendent Kathy Countryman said staff have heat plans in place to keep students and themselves cool. With the heat plans, students rotate to different classrooms in buildings with only partial air conditioning to keep cool. 

“We’re just being very conscientious about making sure students have an opportunity to cool down and make sure students have time to get water or drinks if necessary,” she said. 

Southeast Elementary School, North Elementary School and West Elementary School are some of the schools within the district with partial air conditioning, she said. As far as she knew, after school programs and sports events were not being cancelled. 

Kathy Spiewak, North Elementary School principal, said teachers and students were doing fine at her school, which has six designated cool areas. The staff is offering water and freezer pops for the students. 

“The kids are pretty much used to this,” Spiewak said. 

Indian Creek School District 425 and Genoa-Kingston School District 424 did not release students early or do much else in the face of the heat. Joe Burgess, Genoa-Kingston superintendent, said all five schools in the district are air-conditioned. Parents wanting to know about any changes to the district’s scheduling should check its Facebook page and website, he said. 

“Hopefully, the weather will break and we’ll have a normal fall,” District 428’s Briscoe said. 

Forecast temperatures

(in degrees F)


High: 94

Low: 72


High: 88s

Low: 62

Source: National Weather Service

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