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Bad Medicine and Frappuccinos. Part C

3) Temperature-controlled environment

Although I don’t wish to talk only about legal issues, I do believe it serves us well to know what the regulations and guidelines are mandated by the State (in Speak Up Summit lingo, I shall say ‘to stay informed’) about what is the minimum we can expect from the administration. Note: expecting is not the same as demanding.

Like with Virtual Instruction, I couldn’t find any regulations about the temperature-controlled classroom in NJ. There had been at least 3 different bills submitted in the last couple of years to the State Legislature for establishing temperature control guidelines and standards for school facilities with no success.

There are guidelines though for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), which is affected with higher temperatures. For instance, at 85 F, if the HVAC system (see 6) is not running, it is very likely that Carbon Dioxide is building up causing sleepiness and other IAQ issues. this will not be a suitable environment for learning or working in general (N.J.A.C.12:100-13.1-13.8). As I understood, what the administration should be monitoring is the levels of Carbon Dioxide -not necessarily temperature- inside the building and providing proper air ventilation, mechanical or not mechanical, to keep compliance with IAQ standards.

Although in NJ school districts are not mandated by law to install temperature-controlled systems in the classrooms, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) suggests that the temperatures for classrooms should be based on the season: 68-76 F for winter and 72.5-80 F for summer (Standard 62.1-2007). This is not a law, but a guideline and accepted standard.

Before this controversy, I was not aware of the lack of ac systems in our schools. My kid has never complained about being hot at school during summer, but l heard lots of parents complaining last week of kids with heatstroke symptoms after school.

It is clear that the weather is changing and despite advanced models, it’s mostly unpredictable, for me, one of the most crucial points -regardless the decision taken about school calendar- is the need to focus on equipping all schools with temperature-controlled systems to ensure proper instruction at all times.

Even if classes start two days after Labor Day or start a week before, we will experience hot days at either the beginning or the end of the school year. Our only concern shouldn’t be just snow days and how to allocate them, but also extremely hot days and how we will deal with them, as we all experienced last week.
 
6 “HVAC system” means the collective components of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system including, but not limited to, filters and frames, cooling coil condensate drip pans and drainage piping, outside air dampers and actuators, humidifiers, air distribution ductwork, automatic temperature controls, and cooling towers.