Denver schools without air conditioning calling ‘heat days,’ releasing students early

Students in kindergarten on the first day of school at McGlone Academy.
Denver Public Schools students started Monday, but 14 schools will release students early Tuesday due to high outdoor temperatures and a lack of air conditioning.

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Students just returned to Denver Public Schools this week, but already several schools are curtailing their hours due to high outdoor temperatures and no air conditioning.

At least 14 schools released students early Tuesday as temperatures soared into the high 90s for the second day in a row. Denver hit 99 degrees on Monday, a record for the date.

Another 17 schools are planning an early release Wednesday. The National Weather Service forecast calls for a high of 94 in Denver.

The schools are:

• Skinner Middle School
• Park Hill Elementary School
• McMeen Elementary School
• Whittier Elementary School
• Polaris Elementary School
• Carson Elementary School
• Godsman Elementary School
• Bryant Webster Elementary School
• Columbine Elementary School
• Stedman Elementary School
• Asbury Elementary School
• Bradley Elementary School
• Lincoln Elementary School
• Brown Elementary School
• Knapp Elementary School
• University Park Elementary School
• Edison Elementary School

Forty-three of Denver’s approximately 200 schools don’t have air conditioning. It’s a long-running problem that DPS has been trying to solve with voter-approved tax money. Eleven schools got air conditioning this summer thanks to a bond passed by voters in 2020, and 13 more schools are slated to get cooling systems by next year.

“Heat days” are an interim solution. More than 30 DPS schools called heat days last September during a streak of hot weather. The district also pushed back the start of school by a week in 2021 in an attempt to mitigate the high temperatures Denver often experiences in August.

Bureau Chief Erica Meltzer contributed.

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering Denver Public Schools. Contact Melanie at masmar@chalkbeat.org.

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