Floyd County public schools sent students home early Monday and again on Tuesday because of the oppressive heat in the dog days of August.
The early closure came less than a week after the county Board of Supervisors approved an emergency allocation of funds to add air conditioning units to the Floyd Elementary School cafeteria, which school superintendent Kevin Harris called the hottest part of any of the county’s five school buildings.
Most public schools depend on open windows and fans to deal with warm days but the buildings were designed back when school did not open until after Labor Day.
When a school system opens before the middle of August and faces ever-increasing heat and humidity from climate change, closing because of heat becomes more and more of a necessity.
Dealing with the problem places demands on already-tight school budgets and puts students, teachers and other school workers in unhealthy situations.
Even the trip home places strains on students, many of whom travel in buses without air conditioning in afternoons when heat and humidity are at the highest levels.
Students practicing for the opening of the high school football season face potential problems of heat-related problems.
Deaths of high school football players due to heat have more than tripled in the last 20 years. Several states have new rules to prevent heat-related deaths of high school football players. Most follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, which recommends use of an instrument that measures the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature.
When the WBGT reading tops 92.1, outdoor workouts should be cancelled.