Denver Teachers Protest Lack of Air Conditioning in Classrooms

Teacher Arlene Lebowitz assists a student in her third-grade class during summer school July 2, 2003 in Chicago, Illinois. A record number of students are expected at summer school due to a strong showing for a new voluntary program for mid-tier students and strict application of non-ITBS (Iowa Tests of …
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A group of 50 teachers, parents, students stood outside Denver Public Schools (DPS) headquarters on Monday to protest the lack of air conditioning in 60 buildings throughout the school district.

The protesters, organized by Caucus for Today’s Teachers, said that temperatures inside those buildings reached up into the 90s and are unhealthy and harmful for teachers and students, the Denver Channel reported.

“We’re here because it is too hot to learn,” East High School teacher Tiffany Choi, who organized the event, told the Denver Post.

“We had classrooms reading as hot as 88 degrees, and some of the classrooms as high as 92 degrees,” Alex Nelson, a fourth-grade teacher at Bryant-Webster Dual Language School, told CBS Denver.

The group is demanding DPS address the issues with those buildings by either installing air conditioning (AC) units, allowing fans in classrooms, giving teachers grants to cool down classrooms, or starting the school year later.

Denver’s public schools are already in session, and temperatures are set to go up to the 90s this week.

DPS spokesperson Will Jones told the Post that the district is not ignoring their complaints, saying that the district is distributing fans and evaporative coolers to the buildings affected. He also said the district is encouraging building managers to keep the windows of the school buildings open at night.

“We very much appreciate the work of our staff in preparing for and coping with today’s heat,” Jones said. “We know the first weeks can be very hot, and we’ve worked hard to prepare our schools to handle days like today.”

Three of the 60 schools are set to have AC units installed by 2020 while the remaining 57 will get “heat mitigation” work funded by a 2016 bond, Jones added.

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