PUEBLO — Parents, teachers and students in both Pueblo’s School District 70 and District 60 are concerned about the health of their children after many complaints that schools are too hot and certain classrooms do not have air conditioning.
“I don’t feel like sitting in a 98-degree room is an environment set up for success for everyone to learn 8 hours a day,” said Meghan Maynes, who has three children in District 60, one at the Pueblo Arts. Academy and two at the Zuiderschool.
On Monday morning, District 70 announced that Prairie Winds Elementary School would be leaving early at 11:00 a.m. due to air-conditioning problems, and Desert Sage Elementary followed shortly after for the same reason.
“We want them to be here, we want them to learn, so it’s always hard when they have to get out early,” said a Desert Sage dad picking up his apprentice.
“I mean, I’ll give them a break one day, but if we get another call to the AC, I’m sure me and many other parents will be in touch.”
However, Maynes says the heat problem in schools has been going on for years.
“They all complain about how hot it is in the classroom, and it has been every year… but this year it’s extremely hot, I think.”
The early layoffs came on the same day that the Pueblo County’s Health Department’s new mask mandate came into effect, requiring every person at a school over the age of two to return to wearing masks, regardless of vaccination status.
“I felt like my kids were being treated like rabid dogs,” said one woman whose children attend Pueblo County High School, describing her reaction to hearing the new mask mandate.
Maynes says she’s all for the mask mandate, but the combinations of the mask and the heat worry her.
“I’m excited about the mask mandate because it reduces the risk of it being passed on and coming into my home, but on top of that, it makes it even hotter for these kids to learn,”
Several teachers from both districts also contacted News 5 with concerns about the heat, but chose not to go in front of the camera for fear of losing their jobs.
District 70 says they are “working with HVAC contractors to get those systems back up and running as quickly as possible.”
District 60 says they have guidelines at the beginning of each school year to help prevent heat stress, including “moving students to cooler areas in our buildings whenever possible, opening windows and turning off lights and electronics in classrooms, and encouraging frequent water breaks for students and staff.” “. They also say they are about 60% done installing new HVAC units on both South and PAA.
Regarding the mask mandate, all questions and concerns should be directed to the health department, who said no one was available to speak for the time being.