Should NJ schools send kids home when it gets too hot?
A handful of New Jersey school districts sent kids home early this week due to excessive heat, renewing the debate about whether kids should be in school during high heat days.
Kearny and Jersey City announced early dismissal on Tuesday as temperatures went well into the 90's with high humidity. Many of the older school buildings in the districts do not have air conditioning.
The issue of hot classrooms is not new. It was brought into focus last Fall when temperatures briefly went into the 90's in September. That was also before Gov. Phil Murphy had lifted his statewide school mask mandate.
These days it seems more likely that kids will get a day off or an early dismissal due to higher temperatures than they are for bad weather in the Winter.
New Jersey State Climatologist Dave Robinson at Rutgers University says the state's summers are getting hotter. "As New Jersey's summer weather gets warmer," Robinson says, "We are seeing more days over 90."
Robinson says it wont happen every year, but there is a trend. For example, in New Brunswick, the number of days with temperatures over 90 has averaged 20-days per year over the long-term. In 2021, it happened 36 days.
In Jersey City, interim Superintendent Norma Fernandez says the district is formalizing a policy that would give parents a guide as to when children would be sent home early.
Fernandez told NJ.com temperatures in excess of 94-degrees would be "unacceptable" to her, but "I am not a health expert."
Not everyone is on board with the idea of dismissing early due to hot weather.
One parents group in the district said it was not only hugely disruptive to families, it is an "abandonment of their duty to educate our students."