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Scorcher of a day for county schools

Keeping hydrated is best way fight this year's end-of-summer temperatures.  | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Medifile

Keeping hydrated is the best way to fight this year's end-of-summer temperatures. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: October 27, 2013 2:25AM



The late August heat wave caused some school closings in Grayslake this week, early release in Highland Park and an extension of the heat schedule in the Waukegan School District.

“We’ve been monitoring the temperatures {in the classrooms} and last evening it was well over 100 degrees,” said Supt. Ellen Correll of Community Consolidated School District 46 in Grayslake where the Meadowview and Woodview Schools were closed due to high heat and humidity. Neither school has air conditioning.

“There’s no real way to bring in cold air,” she said, “We have a commitment to our staff and children’s health,” After-school activities were also cancelled.

She said for the rest of the week the two schools without air conditioning will operate on half days, letting the students out after lunch. “I’ve been monitoring the classrooms and it’s still in the high 80s with no children in there,” said Correll.

Over in Highland Park and Deerfield, both high schools let students out early due to the heat index. Students were released around 1 p.m. and buses were set to run the afternoon routes after dismissal. All after-school activities, including athletics, were also cancelled at both schools.

North Shore School District 112 implemented an interrupted the school day Tuesday at all district schools, with the exception of its two fully air-conditioned buildings, Oak Terrace Elementary School and the Green Bay Early Childhood Center. Students were dismissed around 1 p.m. and afternoon kindergarten classes were cancelled, except for those at Oak Terrace. After-school activities were cancelled.

In Waukegan, they will continue with their interrupted school days starting early and letting kids go home earlier. High school campuses will begin at 8 a.m. and dismiss at 2:05 p.m. and all middle schools will begin at 7 a.m. and dismiss at 1:05 p.m., and elementary schools (Carman, Clark, Clearview, Glen Flora, Glenwood, Greenwood, Hyde Park, Little Fort, McCall, North, Oakdale, Washington, Whittier) will begin at 8 a.m. and dismiss at 1:40 p.m., according to the district.

This schedule will ensure that all students are dismissed prior to what is traditionally the warmest part of the day. As part of the abbreviated heat schedule, students who ride the bus to school are asked to please be at their bus stops one hour earlier than normal.

The Illinois School Code allows for the use of interrupted school days for adverse weather conditions.

The National Weather Service reported that Waukegan Regional Airport hit 96 degrees just before 3 p.m. and the heat index said it felt like 101 degrees.

Meteorologist Amy Seeley said the record high for Tuesday was 97 and O’Hare International Airport was expected to get into the low 90s. She said temperatures should stay in the 80s the rest of the week. The normal high at this time is 81 degrees, she said.

Advocate Condell Medical center, Libertyville, and Vista Medical Center East, Waukegan, reported that they did not have any emergency room visits for heat-related illnesses.

“I think we’ve come a long way with heat warnings. People stay inside and if they are outside they stay hydrated. As long as people keep doing that, we should be in good shape,” said Josh McColough, spokesman for Advocate Condell. Heat warnings were issued by the National Weather Service for southern Wisconsin and other Illinois counties west of Lake County.

Ashley Dennison, spokesman for ComEd, said the system has been performing well and there were only 2,000 people without power in all of northern Illinois. Usually problems arise with prolonged heat spells. “We’re nowhere near our peak usage,” she said. A Chicago elementary school of 600 students lost power Tuesday, Aug. 27, after fuses on a transformer blew, but they don;t know if it is heat related yet. It should be back on for school Wednesday, Aug. 28.



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