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Back to School: How districts are preparing for the heat

Hundreds of thousands of students are heading back to school across the Sacramento Valley. But, at the same time, so is a dangerous heatwave.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Students on a traditional school schedule at the region’s largest school district, Elk Grove Unified Schools (EGUSD), return to the classroom on Thursday, Aug. 15. However, more than a dozen year-round EGUSD schools are already in session.

All of the district’s 67 schools are air-conditioned and over the summer, some 300 new HVAC systems were installed.

Still, out of an abundance of caution, Xanthi Pinkerton, a district spokesperson, said the district has issued excessive heat and air quality advisories for school and sports to administrators and staff. Advisories for schools alert staff to provide students access to water, shaded areas, and access to inhalers for asthmatic students. It also reminds teachers to be aware that playground equipment may be hot to touch.

The Vacaville Unified School District (VUSD), which starts school on August 15, issued a warning to parents and students to be cautious. 

“We realize it’s hot and it does get hot in Vacaville," said Superintendent Jane Shamieh. "So, we’re used to it. The unfortunate part is the hottest day of the summer is the first two days of school.”

Vacaville schools will be limiting outdoor activity for students. The district has also purchased portable air conditioning units as a precaution, said district spokesperson Elaine Kong.


You may also wonder what schools are doing to keep student safe getting to and from school. While all the special education buses are air conditioned, the larger buses are not. However, they do have white painted roofs to reflect heat and windows are tinted to provide shade. Also, the driver may open the windows if needed and students are allowed to drink water while on the bus.

Individual schools may also choose to bring recess inside and make other site-specific adjustments, Pinkerton said. Many sports and extracurricular activities will likely be brought indoors over the next week.

The San Juan School District follows the Air Quality Index guidelines set out by the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, according to a district spokesperson.

And what about the Sacramento Unified School District? Well, those students may be able to escape the heat in the classroom because they're scheduled to return from summer break for another two weeks.

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