By Matt Martinez, The Berkshire Eagle
Teachers brought in extra fans and hauled extra water into classrooms. Overhead classroom lights were left off.
Any way to beat the heat was welcome relief on Wednesday at Clarksburg School and Abbott Memorial School in Florida, as students and staff contended for a second straight day with stifling heat.
Neither school has air conditioning throughout the building.
Facing a third day of unseasonable weather — with potentially the worst heat and humidity of the week — John Franzoni, superintendent of the North Berkshire School Union, decided to release students at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
A fan blows on sixth graders in Brenda Johnson's classroom Wednesday at Clarksburg Elementary School. Teachers kept fans running and the overhead lights off in the classroom to try to beat the heat.
That early release, made in consultation with the principals of those schools, will give students the opportunity to get lunch at the school, if they choose to. The announcement was made at dismissal Wednesday.
Temperatures in nearby North Adams topped out at 88 degrees Wednesday afternoon, with a heat index of 94, according to the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y. Thursday's forecast calls for highs near 92, with heat indices in the upper 90s.
Jase Langenback, 10, left, drinks from his water bottle Wednesday in his fifth grade class with Colette Klein at Clarksburg Elementary School. With no air conditioning in the majority of the building, classes will be dismissed early on Thursday because of the unseasonable heat.
The schools in Clarksburg and Florida are both old — Abbott Memorial has been updated over time, but was built nearly a century ago, Franzoni said. Clarksburg School was built in the 1960s. Both buildings are exposed in the sun with poor ventilation, making them difficult to endure in the heat.
The district, which includes Savoy, Rowe, Monroe, Clarksburg and Florida, wants to provide the best conditions possible for its students to learn under, Franzoni said. It simply can’t do that Thursday.
“I’d rather be proactive and take action than wait until there’s an issue,” he said.
The schools aren't the only ones feeling the heat. Pittsfield High School postponed its Meet The Teacher Night, originally scheduled for Thursday, due to the expected heat.
In an email to parents, Principal Maggie Harrington-Esko wrote that the event, which is meant to connect students and their families with educators and faculty to learn about educational programs and a student’s “academic journey in the year ahead,” will be held later in the month to make the experience more comfortable for everyone.
“With the temperatures being warmer than our typical September weather, we are concerned with potentially doubling the number of people we have moving throughout the building,” Harrington-Esko wrote.
Meet The Teacher Night will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 26. Harrington-Esko’s email said additional information on the format and schedule of events will be provided closer to the new date.