Parents, keiki rally for cooler classrooms in light of record-breaking heat

Punchbowl Street

The Department of Education will soon have more guidelines for staff, parents, and teachers to handle the heat.

A spokesperson says it could happen as soon as Friday morning.

In the meantime, two rallies were held Thursday fronting the DOE building on Punchbowl Street to support teachers and students who work in “unbearable” conditions.

Their message was clear: Give keiki air conditioning, especially in this record-breaking heat.

“We would like to bring AC to every classroom in the state,” said Gigi Jones of Cool Our Keiki. “It should be very timely because it is a health crisis.”

Jones organized the rallies through her Facebook page. She, like many parents in the state, is concerned with her children’s learning abilities in the hot and humid weather.

“Most of the kids are sweating and some are just relaxing and trying to cool off,” said third-grader Marcella Viernez. “With the heat, it is hard to focus.”

Parents KHON2 spoke to at the rally also said the hot classrooms affect children after school ends.

“We have to drink a lot of water. We have the cooling class for them. We have to wait to do homework because when they come home, they are tired and hot,” said mother Reyna Viernez.

In a statement, the DOE said “We share the concerns of the parents, which is why we have been working vigorously to address the heat situation in our school from emergency purchases of portable ACs to deploying fans in classrooms.”

KHON2 has learned portable air conditioning units have been sent to schools like Ilima Intermediate and Kaimiloa on Oahu, and some to Maui.

“I think that’s great. They’re actually stepping up and trying to do something,” said Reyna Viernez. “What worries me is that our schools are so old, that plugging one in, it could blow the fuse system.”

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