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SOUTHINGTON, CT (WFSB) -
A number of schools across the state aren’t taking any risks when it comes to their students and Tuesday’s predicted heat and humidity.
Several, including Southington and New Britain said they are dismissing early on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
"This is an unusual weather," Paul Salina, chief operations officer for New Britain Public Schools, said. "I've been in the system since 1970, and I don't recall having early dismissals due to heat in the last 40 years."
"As much as we like to have a routine set at the beginning of the year, and this certainly disrupts our routine but common sense has to prevail," Salina said.
Many districts made the decision over the holiday weekend and cited health and safety as their main concern.
"Given the health issues, the number of kids that were lethargic in the classroom, we just felt that it was better to make it an early release day," New Britain Schools Superintendent Kelt Cooper said.
While teachers did their best to keep rooms cool by bringing in fans and opening windows because most Connecticut schools do not have air-conditioning. While parents said they appreciate the distance the district is going, an early dismissal was the right decision.
"I don't think they would learn the same if they're here all day just suffocating and sweating and wanting to go to the nurse," parent Maribel Mejaia said.
School officials throughout the state said they wanted to give parents enough notice to plan for their children heading home early.
"Our biggest concern is the health of our youngest students,” said Tim Connellan, superintendent of Southington schools. “They're fragile and not the most tuned into themselves sometimes, so can't [they] tell us always. Little ones we have to watch the most carefully."
Connellan said his district has been trying to keep Southington Schools as comfortable as possible while keeping an eye on the weather.
"We're being proactive and careful with the children as best we can,” he said.
That’s why he said officials made the call to dismiss elementary schools early on Tuesday. The high school and middle schools are air conditioned, so they are running on a normal schedule.
Southington elementary schools will be dismissing early on Wednesday as well and there will be no afternoon pre-kindergarten.
While parents say they appreciate the distance the district is going, an early dismissal was the right decision.
"I got a robo call on my phone last night so at least they gave us enough notice so we can make arrangements,"said Sierra Buccellato, of Southington, who applauded the decision.
Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary said students in his city dismissed between 11 a.m. and noon on Tuesday, though the actual time varies by school.
While the scheduled didn't inconvenience Francis Villanueva, he said he isn't a fan of the early dismissal.
"I don't really agree with it because we have to keep going with the program," he said.
Temperatures reached the low to mid-90s, and because of that some parents like Jacqueline Santiago agreed with the school's decision.
"I think it's fine because some schools don't have the air conditioning for the kids so I believe it's good," Santiago said.
In Middletown, the elementary and middle schools operated on an early schedule.
The city’s superintendent said they’re also making sure that the children are drinking plenty of water while they are on school.
"[We’re making sure they’re] staying hydrated, even if not thirsty,” said Dr. Patricia Charles, Middletown’s superintendent. “Bringing drinks from home with no caffeine or sugar. Really plain water is what we recommend."
In Enfield, all public and parochial schools dismissed early after lunch on Tuesday. Schools tweeted that there were no p.m. preschool classes as well as no after-school activities or park and recreation events. The ERFC School Age Centers was open for the day.
People seeking to stay cool can visit splash pad locations in New Britain. The ones located at Chesley and Willow Street parks are open until 9 p.m.
Windham Public Schools also dismissed two hours early on Tuesday because of the anticipation of high temperatures. All afternoon activities were canceled and this dismissal only pertains to students.
West Haven and Wolcott school districts will be dismissing early on Wednesday as well.
For more information on heat-related illnesses, click here.
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