Sergio Cepeda of Aurora wipes sweat off his face after a workout. Residents are sweltering as temperatures rise in the Fox Valley. | Sun-Times Media File Photo
Updated: October 12, 2013 6:19AM
The heat that enveloped the Aurora area Tuesday played havoc with people’s schedules, as schools closed, trains were late and people did their best to stay in the cool indoors.
It looks like residents will have to get used to the discomforts, at least for another day.
Classes at 20 non-air conditioned Indian Prairie District 204 schools will be canceled for a second day in a row, Wednesday, as temperatures are expected to skyrocket again throughout the Fox Valley. West Aurora School District is planning to let students out early on Wednesday because of the heat.
While most districts reported that students were bearing up under the blazing temperatures, a student at the Fox Valley Career Center in Maple Park experienced heat-related symptoms and was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital as a precaution.
The Fox Valley Career Center is in the Kaneland School District.
Impact at D204
School District 204 officials said that because of Tuesday’s high temperatures, the buildings would not have time to sufficiently cool before Wednesday’s highs hit.
Staff members will be required to report to work, but all curriculum night events planned to be held in non-air-conditioned schools on Wednesday will be rescheduled.
The elementary schools with classes being canceled include: Brookdale, Brooks, Builta, Clow, Cowlishaw, Fry, Georgetown, Gombert, Graham, Kendall, Longwood, McCarty, Patterson, Spring Brook, Steck, Watts, Welch, White Eagle, and Young. Classes have also been canceled at Indian Plains, the district’s alternative high school.
Working parents who might have been put in a bind because of the prompt cancellations were offered a reprieve through the local YMCA’s Safe n’ Sound program this week.
The Y offered a full day of programing for out-of-school students for $40.
Erika Wood, executive director of the Safe n’ Sound program, said that on Tuesday, about 60 kids showed up for a day filled with games, arts, crafts and learning.
Students also took a field trip to a local movie theatre where they escaped the high temperatures.
“Our staff loves the opportunity to work with the kids. So, when the district has a day like (Tuesday or Wednesday), we definitely work in partnership with them,” Wood said. “We are happy to serve the kids when school is not in session.”
Wood said parents are extremely grateful that they have alternative options.
“We all work, and having the choice of where to send your child definitely gives them peace of mind,” she said. “They know their child is an a fun, safe environment, and that is something our staff really rallies around. We make sure every kid has a really great experience.”
According to the district, the initial decision to not have air conditioning in most elementary schools dates back to 1979. Thirty years later, in 2009, the district examined the cost it would take to retrofit the 19 schools without central air and determined that it would take around $1.9 million per school. The entire project would cost around $36 million and take years to complete.
In 2008, administrators created a High Temperature Plan which they put in place at the non-air conditioned schools. The plan includes monitoring the temperatures of each location, and outlines dismissal procedures. Principals were also asked to establish a routine that would provide relief for students, which includes rotating classes through currently air conditioned rooms in the school, moving second-floor classes to the gymnasium and moving others outside when appropriate.
Once again, students will be released early on Wednesday in West Aurora District 129, just like they were Tuesday and also during a period in late August.
Early release is necessary to protect the health and safety of students and staff, district officials said.
West Aurora High School will dismiss Wednesday at 10:40 a.m., with students attending periods 1,2, 3 and 8. Sports practices will be held after early dismissal.
The Todd Early Childhood Center and Hope Wall School preschool will dismiss at 11 a.m. Neither will have afternoon preschool. The rest of Hope Wall and all elementary schools will dismiss at 11:20 a.m.
Middle schools will dismiss at noon, with no after-school events or athletic practices.
Lunch will not be served at West Aurora schools Wednesday.
Students in special education private placement will follow their regular schedule and do not have an early release.
West High’s evening Success Academy also will follow its regular schedule and sack lunches will be provided.
The Greenman and Hill open houses both have been rescheduled for Sept. 17.
Students and their parents weren’t the only onces impacted by the heat on Tuesday. Metra issued a service alert on its website Tuesday morning, advising riders that trains could be delayed 10 to 15 minutes because of the heat. Trains will have to operate at reduced speeds to compensate for heat-related stress to tracks and equipment, Metra said.
However, there is relief in sight. By the end of the week, more-seasonal temps in the 60s will settle across the region, according to Richard Castro, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.