Air conditioning in NSW schools
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How can children learn when they are sitting in 40 degree heat inside a classroom with no air-conditioning? Where is the quality teaching that is promised? Those making the decisions on whether a school is entitled to air-conditioning or not are sitting in air conditioned offices, is this fair?
Those schools in far west NSW have an extra week off holidays called "Heat Week" because it is to hot to go back to school. As someone who has lived out there I understand why heat week is necessary but all the classrooms have air-conditioning.
With today's climate change should we all be given an extra week? Or is air-conditioning in all schools across NSW a better option?
Over the last week I have recorded the temperature inside an upstairs classroom. This classroom is made of brick with a metal roof. There are 2 fans, 2 vents in the ceiling for the hot air to rise (not that is does) and skylights. Then there is the glare of the sun reflection from the metal roofs from the lower level classrooms so the blinds need to remain closed (this is something that has been practised for years). On days of high humidity it feels even hotter than the actual temperature recorded. By the afternoon the children are so tired and hot that trying to learn anything new would be difficult.
- Monday 30th Jan 2017 - 39 degrees
- Tuesday 31st Jan 2017 - 42 degrees
- Wednesday 1st Feb 2017 - 34 degrees
- Thursday 2nd Feb 2017 - 33 degrees
- Friday 3rd Feb 2017 - 38 degrees
Teachers and students with medical conditions, such as diabetes, suffer from the heat terribly. People with diabetes may need to increase their intake of fluids in hot weather, drinking water regularly through the day. One of the major concerns regarding diabetes and hot weather is the risk of blood sugar levels rising or falling and causing hypoglycemia (hypos) or hyperglycemia.
What are the hypo risks from hot weather?
Hot weather can increase the risk of hypoglycemia for those on blood glucose lowering medication. The body’s metabolism is higher in hot and humid weather which can lead to an increased chance of hypoglycemia. Hypos may be slightly harder to spot in hot weather. Hypo symptoms, such as sweating and tiredness, are similar to those suffering from the hot weather and should never be ignored. Diabetics needs to keep a source of fasting carbohydrates, such as jellybeans, on hand which in itself can cause issues within a classroom.
Women going through menopause already suffer from hot flashes..A hot flash is a feeling of intense heat, not caused by external sources. Hot flashes can appear suddenly, or you may feel them coming on. You may experience:
- tingling in your fingers
- your heart beating faster than usual
- your skin feeling warm, suddenly
- your face getting red or flushed
- sweating, especially in the upper body
This uncomfortable symptom affects approximately three-quarters of all women in perimenopause, or the time before actual menopause. Once a woman has reached menopause, she may continue to have hot flashes for six months to five years, and in some women, they may linger for 10 years or even longer. Imagine sitting in a classroom that is 40 degrees when a hot flash comes on.
Then there is
- heat stress
- heat intolerance
- heat stroke
- hives/heat rash
Diseases/Disorders affected by heat:
- Themoregulatory disorders
- Thyroid conditions
- Asthmatics suffer from poor airflow
- Neurological disorders
- Anhidrosis or hypohydrosis is a dysfunction in which a person is unable to sweat when they are hot. Anhidrosis refers to the complete absence of sweating, while hypohidrosis is when a person sweats less than normal.
Then there is the questionable gas heaters that some schools still have in their classrooms. A split system air-conditioner would replace those heaters and all the issues that come with them.
So Mr Stokes I am writing this petition to ask that you consider installing air-conditioning in all NSW schools that do not have it already. Following the accident at Heathcote High school, more than 5000 trees were chopped down at schools across NSW, with $13 million spent on "tree safety works". How long until someone suffers an "accident" because of this heat or the gas from the heaters? Will it be classed as an accident when it could have been prevented? We stop children bringing egg, nuts etc because of food allergies but what about those with asthma or diabetes? Are we ensuring their safety? Is this a WHS issue?
If you are a concerned parent please sign this petiton and share it. Enough is enough. No amount of frozen water bottles or frozen ice packs will help your child gain quality education. It comes down to their environment in which they are learning. We all know how much nicer it is when we are cool, whether it is in the shopping centre or down at the beach with a nice sea breeze. Just image having to work with no air-conditioning (if you don't already) but not having the maturity to be able to cope? That's what it is like for your children.
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