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Schools cancel, turn to remote learning amid high temperatures

Many Maine schools released students early, while Bangor Schools held classes remotely on Monday and on Tuesday.

MAINE, USA — As temperatures are expected to rise into the 90s early this week, some schools are planning to release students early or hold classes remotely. 

The Bangor School Department announced Sunday that Bangor public schools will employ remote learning on Monday. 

Kathy Harris-Smedberg, the interim Superintendent of Bangor Schools, said there are several factors that led to the decision: the rooms are already at uncomfortable temperatures, fans are not allowed to run as a COVID-19 precaution, and students and staff still need to wear face masks.

"If the students did not have to wear masks then we would be in session," she said.

Harris-Smedberg said all teachers will be providing instruction Tuesday, and she advises parents to reach out to administration or teachers in the morning if they have further questions.

Bangor Regional School will have in-person learning because they have air conditioning.

Harris Smedberg said the department is looking to install air conditioning in the other 10 public schools.

"Some of the COVID money that we are having will go towards H-Vac systems which would help with providing more air circulation that is appropriate for viruses like COVID and would also allow for some cooling element on days like today," she said.

MSAD 6 posted an early dismissal Monday.

Executive Secretary of MSAD 6, Hedy Smith, writes in an email the decision was made "due to the heat and the concern for the health and safety of the students and staff." 

Smith said Bonny Eagle High School and Bonny Eagle Middle School will begin dismissal at 10:30 a.m. Elementary schools will dismiss at 11:30 a.m.

RSU 14 which serves the Windham and Raymond area has also announced an early dismissal starting at 11:30 a.m.

South Portland Superintended Ken Kunin announced Monday that all schools will be remote for Tuesday in light of the expected continued heat. 

"With almost no air conditioning in our buildings and the requirement for all to wear masks indoors, we have decided that a remote learning day for Tuesday is the most sensible option," Kunin wrote in an email to the South Portland schools community. "We apologize for the inconvenience. We look forward to making the best of the final four days of a school year that none of us will soon forget."

"It's the first time that I am aware of in the history of the Brewer school department that we've been out a day because of heat," said Greg Porter, superintendent of schools in Brewer.

Family physician at Northern Light Primary Care in Hampden Dr. Mamatha Sirivol said it's important for teachers and parents to know the signs of heat exhaustion, especially in younger kids.

"Any personal protective equipment and face masks or coverings...they increase the effort on breathing and they could decrease the body's ability to dissipate heat," said Sirivol.

Gorham schools are dismissing early to keep students and faculty safe from the 90-plus degree temperatures.

"When you look in classrooms in that degree of temperature it's just really not conducive to learning, and to be quite honest with you, it can become dangerous if students get too active, especially the little ones," said Heather Perry, Gorham Schools superintendent.

Windham schools superintendent Chris Howell said officials try to wrap up the year successfully but now deal with a new challenge.

"I am worried about tomorrow trying to determine this afternoon whether it will be another partial day or whether or not we will have to do a fully remote day, the classrooms right now? They are warm...they are hot...and it makes it difficult to learn," said Howell.

In an automated voice message to school families, the MSAD 15 school district in Gray said schools would be 100 percent remote on Tuesday due to the heat. 

The Bangor School Department will also have a remote learning day on Tuesday.

Go to our website or app for the latest list of closings. 

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