It’s not cool to work in an overheated classroom

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Many elementary school classrooms in Ontario are not air conditioned. This means that high humidity and temperature levels can interfere with working, learning, and health.  Staff and students with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and heart problems are more vulnerable to symptoms of heat stress.   A person who is pregnant is also at greater risk.

Report health and safety concerns about high temperature and humidity to your principal.  Put your concern in writing.  Request that these concerns be investigated and dealt with.  School board actions in response could include for example:  use of electric fans; scheduled access to cooler learning spaces;  resetting ventilation system for greater efficiency; and the maintenance, service,  and repair of air handling units in classrooms.

The basics of self-care also apply. Drink lots of water during the day. Take time to rest in a cool place on your breaks.  If possible, schedule some classroom time in an air conditioned space. Avoid physical exertion.

Contact your ETFO local for support and assistance.

Does your school have a site-specific Hot Weather Action Plan?

School boards have a legal duty to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers” under Section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which includes protecting workers from extreme heat.

Report any high temperature concerns to your principal and, if necessary, contact your local ETFO office or your health and safety representative. 

For further information see the Provincial Working Group on Health and Safety’s High Temperature Guideline.

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The heat is on, in Ontario, and our governments must put people before profit. We’re past the point of calling every worker killed by the climate crisis a “wake up call”. We need action now.