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Districts prepare to begin school year amid excessive heat

The new school year is right around the corner for many Valley districts. Arizona Education Association President Marisol Garcia said that means many schools are preparing to start the year amid record breaking heat.

“Usually when there’s an excessive heat warning, schools do get that alert and we start to alternate the way we move students around buildings, and unfortunately that means a lot of students won’t be able to have outside recess,” Garcia said. 

Garcia said school heat emergency plans also typically include maintaining air conditioning units and making sure students have access to drinking water.

When students aren't able to go outside for lunch or recess, that usually means they stay in their classrooms supervised by teachers, according to Garcia. As a result, teachers get less prep time on hot days, which she said can be disruptive to the whole school.  

"We rely on that one hour so we can prepare for the rest of the week, we can make copies, we can make phone calls to parents, we can meet as a team," Garcia said. "That is a really important hour." 

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.