‘Miserable for everybody in there’: Heat causing issues within Grand Forks classrooms

Valley News Live at 10:00PM KVLY - VOD
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 9:59 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The heat inside certain school buildings in Grand Forks has prompted the school district to make changes this week. Schools like Viking Elementary School are without air conditioning.

“So just really miserable for everybody in there.” said Sarah Drobovolny, a para professional at VES.

While the shorter school days due to the heat in the buildings can cause frustrations for educators like Drobovolny, the impacts in the classroom can also be felt.

“Kids definitely get crankier, their behavior act up a little bit more easier,” said Drobovolny. “Even the kids that don’t normally act up. It’s just so hot and stick in there. Even as an adult, I get a headache I don’t feel very good. So I imagine they feel the same way and probably even worse. So it’s just really hard for them to learn.”

The problem with heat is nothing new to Grand Forks Public Schools. This has been going on for decades. Erin Bjerke was a student back in the 80′s and 90′s and remembers the days when school was let out because of the heat.

“It’s miserable. As a student we hated it,” said Bjerke. “You’re tired, you can’t focus. When I’m hot an tired as an adult, I’m cranky, I don’t want to be there, I avoid it. I can leave, i can move to another room. I can move to another building. I can say, ‘Hey this is too much and I am walking away.’ You can’t do that as a student.”

According to the school district’s superintendent, Terry Brenner, some of the classrooms exceed 90 degrees. The hottest school is Viking Middle School after temperature readings by GFPS.

“We had kids going home sick, we had kids going home with headaches, we had kids going home who were nauseous,” said Brenner. “I heard from a couple of parents regarding those situations and they’re just really not good learning environments.”

Some people on our Facebook page have posed questions on why doesn’t the school district use fans or open windows to beat the heat. Brenner said they have been doing that in the mornings, but unfortunately it isn’t enough.

“If you go into a sauna and you shut the door and you turn a fan on to blow air on you. All your doing is just blowing hot air around.” said Brenner.

A fix is likely two or three years and Brenner said they’re facing challenges of getting labor and materials. Drobovolny hopes it is sooner rather later for all involved.

“Each year is just getting hotter and hotter.” said Drobovolny.

Another round of early dismissals will hit the five Grand Forks schools that are impacted by the heat.