School board hot weather action plan should be activated when the humidex reaches or exceeds 35ºC

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 26th, 2017



It has been hot.

Been that way for two days so far this week and we are probably going to see more of this type of weather before the snow arrives.

And for students in classrooms with no air conditioning – this is not fun time nor is it the kind of environment that learning takes place in very efficiently.

Superintendent of Facilities Gerry Cullen reports that all of Hayden high school is air conditioned?

The Education centre is air conditioned.

All of the high schools have some area that is air conditioned. Newer schools (since Iroquois Ridge) are air conditioned in most areas. Some shop areas may not have air conditioning.

Any elementary school built in the last 25+ years are air conditioned. Some older ones have an area, typically the library, is air conditioned.

The Board has a program in place that is installing air conditioning in older two level buildings. It is part of the ” Close the Gap” projects.

The school board does have a policy related to weather conditions but it is skewed to winter weather. “In rare circumstances, the Director of Education may order schools closed due to extreme weather conditions.”


The best some schools could do was open windows. In some schools the windows cannot be opened.

When the heat or high humidity is combined with other stresses such as hard physical work, physical activity/play, loss of fluids, fatigue or some medical conditions, it may lead to heat-related illness, disability and even death. Some individuals are more susceptible to heat related illness: children less than 15 years old, seniors 65 years and older, children playing sports or prolonged physical exertion, children wearing excessive/heavy clothing, children on certain medications.

Therefore, it is very important to have a Hot Weather Action Plan to deal with these occurrences and to provide precautions on very hot days to protect both students and staff from heat related illnesses and heat stress. Heat stress is affected by 4 environmental factors: air temperature, humidity, air movement and radiant heat. Individual factors such as age, existing medical and physical conditions also play a part in how an individual copes during times of extremely hot weather.

Additional information about preventative measures to manage hot weather conditions can be found on the Region of Halton website at

Student with fan

Do we issue students with fans?

4. Hot Weather Action Plan
• The plan should be activated when weather/environmental triggers occur such as:
• the humidex reaches or exceeds 35ºC;
• Environmental Canada Humidex Advisory (air temperature exceeding 30ºC and the humidex exceeds 40ºC) is issued;
• there is a smog alert and higher temperatures (27-30ºC); or
• a heat wave occurs (3 or more days of 32ºC or higher temperatures).
• Parents and staff should be notified whenever the hot weather plan is activated. Note that there is no specific temperature or humidex value that would trigger schools to close.
A Hot Weather Action Plan includes the following general prevention and control measures:

1.1 Communication
• When hot weather conditions described above (item 1) exist in the Halton Region, the Director or designate will communicate to schools that they are to initiate their Hot Weather Action Plan.


Getting students outside and under trees is going to be one of the solutions when the heat is extreme.

1.2 General Prevention and Controls
• Use PA announcements to advise students not to overexert themselves during nutrition breaks
• Make use of shady areas in the schoolyard.
• Consider indoor or modified recesses and lunch hours. Limit time outdoors when temperatures and UV radiation are most intense, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Make available and encourage students to drink plenty of cool water throughout the day.
• Inform staff on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress (see chart) and monitor students for these signs.
• Recognize that students who have been on vacation or absent from school need to be acclimatized to working in heat.
• Keep as many heat-generating appliances and fixtures off while maintaining safety. Shut off computers and projectors when not in use.
• If there is a breeze outside and the humidex levels are not excessive, consider opening operable windows.
• Increase air movement with the use of fans if temperature is less than 35ºC and the relative humidity is below 70%.
• Keep blinds/curtains closed in classrooms/offices directly exposed to sunlight. Turn off any unnecessary lights.
• If air conditioning is present in some areas of the building, consider cycling classes through these areas.
• If possible, reschedule physical activities and slow down the pace of physical activities as appropriate.

• Avoid activities in direct sunlight.
• Increase the frequency and length of rest breaks, if necessary.
• Cool the body by placing cool, wet paper towels or cloths on the head, forehead or neck. Forearms may also be submersed in cool water.
• When in doubt, seek assistance for the school’s qualified First Aiders for the identification and treatment of heat related disorders.
• Monitor local radio stations for announcements regarding humidex readings.

1.3 Personal Protective Equipment
• Light summer weight clothing made from natural fibers should be worn (whenever possible) to allow free air movement and sweat evaporation. Avoid wearing synthetic fabrics.
• If participating in outdoor activities, wear light coloured clothing.
• Students are encouraged to wear a sunscreen containing a minimum SPF of 15 when outdoors. Other protective measures include a brimmed hat and sunglasses with ultraviolet radiation protection.

student water

There are stations similar to this around Burlington now. will we see more of these in schools?

student fainting

Some students may succumb to the heat and faint – teachers are going to need some instruction.

1.4 Heat Related Illnesses
• People suffer heat-related illnesses when their body temperature rises rapidly and they are unable to properly cool themselves.
• Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.
• People are generally unable to notice their own heat stress related symptoms. Their survival depends on the ability of others, especially adults, to recognize these symptoms and seek timely first aid and medical help.
• Staff should be aware of signs and symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. When in doubt, seek assistance for the school’s qualified First Aiders for the identification and treatment of heat related disorders.
Stop activity and seek medical help immediately if someone:
• has difficulty breathing,
• experiences weakness or fainting,
• is feeling more tired than usual,
• is feeling sick,
• has a headache, and/or
• is experiencing confusion.

• Move the person to a shaded area or indoors to a cooler place. Give the person sips of cool water, not ice water, or a sports drink. Do not provide salt tablets. Although the body will lose a lot of water during times of heavy perspiration, not a lot of salt is lost. Adding extra salt can raise the sodium levels in the body to hazardous levels.

Only a doctor should advise on using salt additives.

Lot’s of detail – this week, so far, the humidex did reach that 35 degree level and the Board of Education didn’t issue any statements to the public generally.

This is a new situation – everyone is going to have to adapt – what steps the Board of Education is going to have to take are going to need some attention.

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2 comments to School board hot weather action plan should be activated when the humidex reaches or exceeds 35ºC

  • Sharon

    Thank you, George, for your support. The Save Bateman Committee continues…

    Save Bateman The Isn’t Over Yet!

    And yes Burlington please remember that Richelle Papin, Leah Reynolds, and Andrea Grebenc voted to close Lester B. Pearson and Robert Bateman High Schools when you vote October 2018

  • George

    Here is something to think about:

    Robert Bateman high school is air-conditioned and the Halton District School Board Trustees (R. Papin, L. Reynolds and A. Grebenc) all voted to close Robert Bateman and move the children with special needs to Nelson high school which is old and does not have air-conditioning plus will have to have major costly reconstruction paid for by our taxes to accommodate these children.

    Remember the HDSB Trustees who voted to close two Burlington high schools (Lester B. Pearson and Robert Bateman) when you vote next October 2018.