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Parents remain concerned about change in Baltimore County schools heat closure policy

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Posted at 8:41 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-01 08:48:31-04

Parents remain angry over a policy that closes schools without air conditioning on hot days at more than three dozen Baltimore County Public Schools.

Out of 173 schools in the district, 37 of them do not have air conditioning. During the first five days of school, classes at those 37 schools were canceled twice. The tweaked policy is supposed to keep them from closing as frequently, but parents are asking at what cost?

Mady Jackson is a third grader at Dundalk Elementary, and Wednesday, she was hot.

"The teacher was teaching us, and we were listening, (but) wanted to fall asleep because I was so hot," Mady said.

Her father, Blane Wray, said he pulled his daughter out of school Wednesday due to concern over the heat "as a principal of things," he said.

"There were a few other folks that did," Wray said.

Tuesday night, parents watched the Baltimore County School Board change the school closure policy. Instead of the days' forecasted heat index hitting 90 degrees at any point during the day before non-air-conditioned schools close, the forecast must call for 90 degree temperatures by 11 a.m., according to the policy.

RELATED: Baltimore County Board of Education changes heat-related closure policy

"I took it upon myself to realize that we needed to make a change with this policy," said board member Marisol Johnson, who put forth the change.

Johnson said she stands by her decision, calling it a happy medium with parents concerned schools were closing too often.

"It wasn't to encourage the schools to stay open, it was simply to add some flexibility to the policy," Johnson said.

Sherri Schaefer took her daughter home early, as well. She snapped photos this morning when she said the temperature inside the school was higher than 90 degrees.

"It almost never reaches 90 degrees by 11 a.m.," Schaefer said.

"Baltimore County is not keeping their promises to these kids," Wray said. "It's miserable in there. It really is."

Follow Dakarai Turner on Twitter @Dakarai_Turner and on Facebook.

 

Part of the new policy also allows parents to pull their kids out of school with a note if the heat index is supposed to hit 90 degrees by 3 p.m.

Schaefer said she was concerned doing so would cause her daughter to begin missing lessons and fall behind.

Parents at Dundalk Elementary School are frustrated by the Baltimore County Board of Education's decision to amend the heat-related closure policy. 

Tuesday night the board voted to close the 37 non air-conditioned schools if the heat index is forecast to reach 90 by 11 a.m. 

The previous policy closed the non air-conditioned schools if the heat index was forecast to reach 90 at any point during the day. 

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