The Jersey City Public School District needs to make upgrading all school buildings a priority so air conditioning can work in classrooms.
It is not a new idea. We have been writing for years about parents sounding the alarm bells about overheating conditions in classrooms and teachers and staff who pass out trying to do their jobs.
To make matters worse, efforts by parents to get air conditioning in buildings, like the one at 37 School on Erie Street in Jersey City that Jersey Journalist Peter D’Auria wrote about this week, may not be successful. adopted, as they should be. There, parents raised $ 20,000 and bought air conditioning units themselves to have them sit idle for three years and that counts because the district has not upgraded the electrical outlets in the classrooms to welcome them.
While we see progress in the numbers – we wrote in 2005 that two of 39 school buildings were air-conditioned compared to this week’s tally of 14 of 44 fully air-conditioned buildings – it is nonetheless unacceptable that students and staff are being expected just endure the heat waves.
At School 33 on Union Street earlier this week, at least one student, D’Auria wrote, had to be sent home with symptoms associated with the heat: headaches, nausea and dehydration.
It is not a matter of convenience or even just comfort. Illnesses caused by heat can be fatal. Add to this the increased prevalence of asthma in urban areas and the situation becomes even more dire.
As NJ Advance Media noted this week, the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, has long called for air conditioning in all school buildings.
“It is a shame that we still have school buildings that are unsafe, healthy and conducive to learning in hot weather,” said NJEA spokesperson Steve Baker. “All cinemas, fast food outlets and mini markets in New Jersey are air conditioned. If we can afford to do this for the Slurpees, we can afford to do it for the students.
The school board should form an HVAC committee to assess the needs of each school, find funding and ensure that classrooms are prioritized for air conditioning so that by next year all students will be able to spend the whole school day learning in a healthy environment.
State legislators should also take note. Perhaps it is time to demand such measures statewide.