Newark Schools Struggle to Keep Students Cool

As the school year winds to a close in Newark, N.J., some students are celebrating for a perhaps unexpected reason. For many, classes letting out for the summer means a chance to cool down.

Over the last several days, the heat wave has made staying inside some of the city’s aging school buildings, some of which lack working air conditioning, almost unbearable.

Simone Machado pulled her son Bryan, 10, out of school at Ann Street Elementary early on Thursday because she was worried about how he would handle the heat. By the time she got there, a bright red rash had already bloomed across his neck.

He said his fourth grade classroom was “very, very hot.” He was afraid to go back on Friday, he said, when temperatures in Newark are forecast to reach almost 100 degrees. The only silver lining was that it would be the last day of school.

“I don’t want to go, the rashes are going to get worse and worse,” he said. “School’s over tomorrow, thankfully.”

Newark’s mayor issued a “code red” warning as temperatures hit the high 90s, and the city encouraged residents to find recreational centers or pools to cool down. City officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the conditions inside school buildings.

Andre Teixeira also rushed to Ann Street Elementary School in the Ironbound, a working-class neighborhood, to pick up his child early. When he got there his daughter, Amelie, 6, was dripping with sweat. When asked how she felt, she replied simply: “Hot.”

Mr. Teixeira said the heat in the school frustrated him.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “And this is considered one of the best schools in the Ironbound.”

Studies have shown that heat can hurt learning. The state has funded some new buildings, the news outlet Chalkbeat has reported, but many of the city’s older school buildings — some over a hundred years old — remain in disrepair.

At West Side High School, across town from Ann Street, students loped out of the building as the school day ended. Jahsir Graham, 15, said that being in class felt “like you’re in a boiling pot of water.”

“It’s excruciatingly painful,” he said.

Nearby, Mamina Napoleon, 18, said that over the years she had spent studying inside Newark’s sweltering schools, she had learned to conserving her energy to avoid overheating.

“I just walk really slow,” she said. “Because I learn that when I walk fast I get even hotter.”

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