Schools in the Midwest are doing their best to battle blazing temperatures as students return from summer vacation in the midst of a heat wave. Instead of pencils and books, school staff handed out water bottles, fans and wet towels on the first day of classes.
Unfortunately, most city schools don’t have air conditioning.
"It's kind of hard to focus because everyone was sweating," said Deniyah Jones, a 7th-grader at Nash Elementary School in Chicago. Nash only has a couple of window units for the whole brick and stone building.
"Thinking about air conditioning - we can't even afford new textbooks," said Bement Community Unit School District Superintendent Sheila Greenwood.
Rising temperatures at school are becoming such a big problem that students are now as likely to get a "heat day" off from school as they are to receive a "snow day."
When temperatures exceeded 90 degrees last week, five schools in Fargo, N.D., got the entire week off and schools in Minneapolis closed down as well.
"I was up on the third floor and it was 93.8 degrees in the classroom and the kids hadn't been there in hours," said Matt Patton, superintendent of a school district in Baxter, Iowa. "You put 20 bodies in there and it will go up to at least 95 and you can imagine all the sweat on the desks and textbooks."
In addition to making things uncomfortable, experts assert that excessive heat makes the body work harder and can cause people to feel sluggish, therefore making it harder to concentrate or learn, Weather.com reported.
"I was speaking with teachers yesterday and they said there were students who had to leave early, students with bloody noses, students (who) had fainting spells or fell asleep in the classroom," said Illinois Rep. La Shawn Ford. "It's just not a learning environment."