Schools Close Or Dismiss Early Due To Region's Excessive Heat

Some school districts in New England either canceled classes or sent children home early Tuesday as excessive heat baked the region and disrupted the start of the new school year.

The heat index surpassed 100 degrees in several areas of southern New England as temperatures soared into the 90s and the dew point reached the mid-70s, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service issued either an excessive heat warning or a heat advisory for the entire region except for the Massachusetts island of Nantucket and Block Island off Rhode Island. The warnings remain in effect until 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Many schools in the region aren't air conditioned.

Public schools in Holyoke, Massachusetts, were supposed to open Tuesday, but the first day of school was pushed back two days.

"Many of our buildings are not equipped to keep students and staff cool enough during such extreme weather conditions," Superintendent Steve Zrike wrote to parents. "In the interest of student and staff safety, it is best to launch our school year on Thursday."

Unfortunately for students, heat days, like snow days, have to be made up at the end of the school year, district spokeswoman Judy Taylor said.

Schools in West Haven, Connecticut, and Haverhill, Massachusetts, as well as some other districts — Medford and Lowell around Boston, for instance — dismissed early Tuesday.

"While we will certainly not jeopardize anyone's health or safety, it is my hope that we will lose as little instructional time as possible this early in the school year," West Haven Superintendent Neil Cavallaro said in a message to parents.

Haverhill Superintendent Margaret Marotta said early release days count as full days of school, and do not have to be made up.

Taunton schools will release early on Wednesday.

Many other school districts, including in Boston, aren't scheduled to open until after Labor Day.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says the city will open cooling centers and city-run pools will be free for residents the next two days.

The heat is expected to break on Thursday.

With additional reporting by the WBUR Newsroom



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