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.
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.