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Novato schools still hold classes during the heat wave despite the lack of air conditioning

NOVATO (CBS SF) – Lights were off and fans roared inside classrooms at Lou Sutton Elementary School in Novato on Tuesday as students, teachers and staff faced 100-degree temperatures amid a record-breaking statewide heat wave.

The school was one of three campuses in the Novato Unified School district without air conditioning, prompting the district to release students early on all three campuses for the remainder of the week.

“It’s a shame that there are still three schools in Novato that don’t have air conditioning. We’ve been working on this for years,” said Jessica Olivera, a parent at the primary school.

Novato High and Hill Education Center also does not have air conditioning.

Lindsey, a stay-at-home mom who arrived Tuesday morning to pick up her child, was glad the district had taken action to release students early.

“You worry about your kids when it’s not hot and they can’t make it all day, so I was really happy when they said we were going for half a day today. “

Principal Mira Patel noted that staff were doing all they could to support teachers and students until the end of class.

“In the classroom, seeing about 84, 85, I’m sure it’s increasing as we speak. And yes, it’s uncomfortable,” Patel said. “We have our fans, the lights are off and we are keeping the activities indoors.”

Jan Derby, superintendent of Novato Unified, pointed to inflation and supply chain issues that have delayed the district’s plans to install air conditioning.

“There’s no one more interested in air conditioning than those of us in the district office who have to try to implement all of these tough decisions,” Derby said.

But some parents were quick to criticize the district for what they described as a failure to prioritize student safety.

“How is it 2022 and we still don’t have air conditioning?” asked a mother of three.

Robert, a dad who lives a few blocks from the school, said he was extremely frustrated the district didn’t move faster to make upgrades.

“You’re trying to argue with 30 kids under 10 to learn math in such heat, it’s not possible,” Robert said.

The district says it has already purchased some of the equipment needed to install air conditioning, but cannot begin construction until students are on campus for summer vacation. .

He said he expects the projects to be completed by summer 2023.


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