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BCPS changes its new heat-closure policy

The Baltimore County board of education revised its heat-closure policy tonight, raising the bar for when schools should close.

Under the new policy, non-air-conditioned schools will only close if the heat index is forecast to reach 90 degrees by 11:00 AM, not 90 degrees at any time in the day as the prior policy mandated.

Additionally, if the heat index is forecast to reach 90 degrees by 3:00 PM, students can received excused absences if their parents decide to keep them home.

Board member Marisol Johnson introduced the amendment that included the 11:00 threshold. Romaine Johnson added the language about the excused absences.

The policy that was passed on Aug. 9 mandated that schools without air conditioning must close if the heat index is forecast to reach 90 degrees or more at any point in the day. So far, those schools have been closed twice since the beginning of the year.

Board member Ann Miller offered an amendment stating that schools that have non-functioning AC or those that have any general classes in un-air-conditioned classrooms should be treated as schools without AC for the purposes of closures. That amendment failed by a wide margin.

The board did not formally address the issue of non-AC schools having their activities and sports practices cancelled. Many parents complained to the board that it did not make sense to cancel outdoor activities only for non-AC schools.

Miller told the board that the policy does not mandate that after-school activities and sports be cancelled. She said Superintendent Dallas Dance had the discretion to cancel them or have them continue as scheduled.

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Heat index forecast to reach 90 degrees at 3 PM

During the meeting, Dance said the heat index for Wednesday was forecast to reach 90 degrees in the afternoon. That means schools would have been closed tomorrow under the policy passed three weeks ago, but will apparently be open tomorrow based on the amended policy.

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An Angry Parent

Unfortunately, I spent hours watching this debacle unfold. I am still reeling from what I heard from these folks – the lack of concern and understanding and common sense was frightening. Not to mention the rude, disrespectful way some spoke to Ms. Miller and Ms. Causey, who were staunchly supporting what is best for our kids and BCPS staff. (And the student rep? She was awesome! Her parents should be very proud!)

What they continue to deny is the reality INSIDE these schools. Instead, they put their concern for politics ahead of the health and safety of our kids. “We don’t want to get in the middle of the brouhaha between KK and Hogan!” Well, grow up folks and face the reality – you ARE in the middle of it! Deal with it and do the right thing! You can’t control what others choose to do, so stop worrying about it and focus on what matters – our kids.