Letters from the Community on Air Conditioning

Letters to the Editor

HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER
Letters to the Editor
August 26, 2015

DOE bosses get AC but not kids

I wonder how many school administrators, including principals and their staff and everyone working for the state Department of Education, work in air-conditioned offices.
Of course, they should, because the only importance kids seem to have these days is to make bureaucrats look good statistically, so they can justify pay raises for themselves.
Edward H. Lewis
Kailua

HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 9, 2015

Keep heat on DOE to cool kids

Regarding the Sept. 5 story “Officials scramble to cool sizzling schools”: Seems to be there’s a discrepancy in “priorities.” Recently, wasn’t there an upgrade in facilities for our elected officials? Don’t ever tell me the Department of Education puts children first; they put their administrators first, as all have air conditioning.
Personally, if I was a parent of one of these children in the Ewa schools, I’d be in the administrator’s office every day.
If I was a teacher in these schools, I’d have my children pack up all their necessary tools and equipment for the day and head to the principal’s office for a sit-in.
Mary Jo Morrow
Kailua

HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER

Letters to the Editor
Sunday, September 13, 2015

HSTA should sue state over hot classrooms

Much has been written about how hot it is in classrooms throughout the state — even how a teacher had to drive herself to the emergency room because of heat stroke caused by being in a hot, humid classroom all day.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association is supposed to represent the interests of its members.

If the health and welfare of teachers are at risk because of unsafe working conditions, wouldn’t the state be in violation of federal and state laws? Why hasn’t HSTA filed a grievance against the state for apparent violations of occupational safety and health laws?

If the state is hesitant to spend $1.7 billion to fix this problem, perhaps a court-ordered consent decree would do the trick.

Erik Kazuyuki Abe
Downtown Honolulu


HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER
September 21, 2015

LoPresti out front on hot-schools issue

As an Ewa resident and member of the neighborhood board, I commend state Rep. Matt LoPresti in his efforts to cool public schools by calling for fan and air conditioner donations.
He, along with other community members, brought an awareness to the critical situation that the state Department of Education now calls an emergency.
Long before there was any publicity about unbearably hot schools in Ewa, LoPresti quietly but effectively worked in the Legislature earlier this year to secure more than $7 million for air conditioning for Ewa and Ewa Beach Elementary, Kaimiloa Elementary and Ilima Intermediate.
I urge the governor to release these funds as well as divert the $20 million asked for by the DOE to be used for air conditioning the hottest schools on our island.
Sam Puletasi
Member, Ewa Neighborhood Board

HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER
September 20, 2015

Make DOE officials work in hot offices

Parents, teachers and students protesting in front of state Department of Education administration and the Department of Accounting and General Services buildings is probably a good learning experience in democracy.

Better we should push to shut down the air conditioning for bureaucrats until the children and teachers have the same cool opportunity to work. Make the schools administration and DAGS employees suffer and see what happens.

Elbridge W. Smith
Kailua

HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER
September 24, 2015

Try ‘swamp coolers’ in hot public schools

People living in the very hot and dry areas of southern Arizona and southwestern Texas use swamp coolers to cool their houses and some schools.
Swamp coolers use tiny streams of water running in front of an electric fan.
It is much more efficient and economical than an air conditioner for the hot and dry areas of Hawaii.
I know, because I lived in southern Arizona and southwestern Texas for 20 years. The temperatures there range between 100 to 120 in the summer.
The government may want to send an engineer to investigate if Hawaii could apply that type of cooling technology on the Leeward side.
Meanwhile, blowing the fan onto a block or a bucket of ice may help to cool the classroom more efficiently.
Also, please make sure that the students are drinking large amounts of water to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Cecilia Graybeal
Makiki


ISLAND VOICES

DOE officials need to think outside of the sweat box
By Naomi Takamori
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 24, 2015

I am very concerned about how the excessive heat and humidity we are experiencing in Hawaii is affecting our students and teachers.

Our students are sitting in classrooms that are unbearably hot, yet are expected to function and learn in this environment. Teachers and students are suffering with heat exhaustion and dehydration.
As a retired teacher, parent and grandparent of a kindergartners, I know this is an impossible feat. No one can learn in 90-plus-degree temperatures in the classroom. We are facing a health crisis and we need to work together to alleviate or lessen the effects of extreme heat and humidity on our children.

I don’t believe that we can wait for air conditioners, fans or other cooling devices to come to every classroom in Hawaii. We need to take action today.
Medical experts have suggested these measures to help prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration:

>> Stay in air-conditioned rooms. Faculty and administration should look at all air-conditioned rooms in their school and try to get maximum usage of those rooms — trying to get students to spend part of their day there. The library, computer rooms, music/band rooms should be utilized. Creative planning can include having classes double up, or grade levels sharing their periods in those rooms.

>> Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking water is essential for good health and optimal learning. “Brain Gym,” a program that stresses the need for water, should be considered for faculty in-servicing or training. Faculty and staff may also benefit from in-servicing in symptoms, prevention, treatment of heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Cold water should be available in the classrooms or close by. Students should be encouraged to bring water bottles that keep water cold. Paper cups or reusable cups could be kept at the sink for usage by those who forget or do not have water bottles.

Young children need to to monitored because they sometimes can’t tell when they are thirsty. Schedule water breaks if at all feasible. Students need to be taught how to refill their bottles. Parents might consider packing extra juice or fluids for snacks, lunch or the after-school A-plus program.

>> Don’t schedule outdoor activities in the heat of the day. Indoor recess and PE should be considered when there is extreme heat and humidity. Classrooms, patios, cafeteria or other covered areas could be used.

>> Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes. Consider purchasing the new cooling towels that can be wet and placed on the neck to reduce body temperature. Wet paper towels can be applied to the neck to cool off as well.

The health and safety of our students, teachers, staff and administrators to be of the utmost importance.

The state Department of Education should have a master plan in place for cooling all classrooms. It should reconsider the current school calendar to attempt to avoid the hottest months.
Consider giving administrators and districts authority to cancel school when the conditions are so brutal that students cannot learn. Perhaps a half-day schedule could be used. Hours of instruction lost could be made up during cooler times with extended school days.

It’s time for an action plan to deal with this heat problem. Maybe we need to consult experts and begin to brainstorm and think out of the box. The health and education of our precious keiki are at stake.

Naomi Takamori is a retired teacher who taught both special education and elementary students in Hawaii for 30 years.