McHenry County Local News

McHenry County school districts eye excessive heat warning as not all schools have air conditioning

Crystal Lake District 47 calls off classes for two elementary schools

McHenry County school district administrators – both those with and without air conditioning in all of their buildings – are keeping an eye on the weather report for later this week.

Crystal Lake District 47 already made the call. On Monday night, the district announced two buildings - Canterbury and West elementary schools - would be closed Wednesday and Thursday when heat indexes are forecast to hit the 100-plus degree range.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat watch for those days. According to the federal agency, “dangerously hot and humid conditions with heat index values 110 to 115 degrees (are) possible” for McHenry, Lake, DuPage and Cook counties.

“These two buildings do not have air conditioning in the majority of the classrooms/instructional spaces as in our other schools. School for Canterbury and West will resume Friday,” Superintendent Kathy Hinz wrote in an email to parents.

School will continue as planned for all other District 47 schools.

McHenry County Regional Superintendent Diana Hartmann said earlier Monday that she was aware the Crystal Lake district was discussing whether classes may be canceled “if the heat indexes forecast are really that high.”

We have 12 schools, some of which are newer than others.”

—  Kevin Lyons, Woodstock School District 200 spokesman

About five schools in McHenry County do not have any air conditioning, Regional Assistant Superintendent Christopher Zielinski said in an email.

“We also have a few schools across the county that do not have central air but have chosen to address this need by using AC window units strategically placed in classrooms, common areas and office spaces,” he said.

Schools can close if temperatures reach those extremes, Hartmann said, but students also could be remote depending on whether the school has an approved e-learning plan.

Woodstock School District 200 is one that could call off all schools if the forecasted temperatures arrive, spokesman Kevin Lyons said.

“We have 12 schools, some of which are newer than others,” Lyons said.

Woodstock North High School is fully air conditioned, but Woodstock High School is not, Lyons said.

Some schools have air conditioning in the library or in “a couple of larger rooms” and window air-conditioning units in others, but not throughout the school. “It is a mixed bag there,” Lyons said.

If classes are called off due to heat, it will be for all schools and not just those lacking air conditioning, he said. “It becomes difficult for our families, to call off some schools and not others,” Lyons said.

McHenry school officials – both at District 156 and District 15 – said their buildings are fully air conditioned.

“At this time, we are monitoring the impending heat wave closely and are mapping out plans for alternatives to student outdoor activities like recess and after-school practices,” a District 15 spokeswoman said in an email.

Harvard School District 50 installed air conditioning in its last remaining school just last year using federal funds, Superintendent Corey Tafoya said.

When the heat advisory came out, he told principals and sports directors to “start your planning on how to handle recess and practices ... anything where people will be outside.”

The forecasted heat isn’t just warm, Tafoya said. “It is dangerous.”

In its letter to parents, District 47 noted that at temperatures of 90 degrees or lower heat indexes, recess will continue with unrestricted activities; 91 to 95 degrees with restricted activity; and at 96 degrees or above, all activities will remain indoors.

Janelle Walker

Janelle Walker

Originally from North Dakota, Janelle covered the suburbs and collar counties for nearly 20 years before taking a career break to work in content marketing. She is excited to be back in the newsroom.