Breaking News
More () »

Families, school districts prepare for a hot first day of school

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, several schools don't have air conditioning, but district officials say they're taking precautions to keep kids safe.

ST PAUL, Minn. — To find families before the first day of school, look no further than the local swimming pool.

"We had to soak up these last nice days before winter comes,” mother Maria Schweigert said.

The Highland Park Aquatic Center was busy Monday night.

“We had about a 30-minute wait to get in,” Schweigert said.

“It was worth it, though to cool down.”

Many of the kids at the swimming pool are students at Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS). The school district says 57% of their schools don’t have air conditioning.

“We go to Groveland Elementary, and we don’t have air conditioning,” Erin Wiegratz said.

“I think one of the teachers was planning on holding class in the basement library for a portion of the day at least.”

SPPS sent parents a message over the weekend to prepare families for the heat Tuesday.

The district is taking extra steps to help students stay comfortable and hydrated.

In Minneapolis, school district officials say 13 of their schools don't have air conditioning. They, too, are carrying on as planned, with teachers instructed to turn off classroom lights, to close shades and blinds, and to use fewer electronics and technology so they don't generate even more heat in the classroom.

Here is the full message SPPS sent out to families over the weekend:

Dear Saint Paul Public Schools Families,

Weather forecasts show very warm weather for the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Saint Paul Public Schools is taking steps to help students stay comfortable and hydrated.

What we’re doing:

  • Students will have frequent water breaks, and time spent outdoors will be modified as needed
  • If needed, buildings may identify “cooling areas” for students and staff
  • When nighttime outdoor conditions allow, the ventilation systems are set to draw cool air into all school buildings overnight to pre-cool the buildings so it is more comfortable throughout the day
  • Staff will direct any child who feels ill to the nurse's office. If your child has a disability or health condition that gets worse in heat, please notify the school nurse
  • School buses are not air conditioned and windows will be open
  • Any changes to athletics practices or competitions will be communicated by each school’s athletics director and coaches in line with Minnesota State High School League guideline

What you can do:

  • Make sure students are dressed appropriately for the weather. Dress children in lightweight and light-colored clothing
  • Send your student to school with a refillable water bottle
  • If your child has a disability or health condition that gets worse in heat, please notify the school nurse

Parents and guardians have the right to keep their child home if they feel the weather is too hot. Absences are not automatically excused. Families must follow their school’s procedures for reporting an absence


Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) also sent KARE 11 this statement regarding the heat during the first day of school:

All Minneapolis Public Schools will be open on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Below are some reminders about how staff and students can be safe both indoors and outdoors, as we face warmer than usual weather:

  • Be aware of students or staff who may be unusually affected by the heat due to fasting or other conditions (chronic medical conditions, pregnancy, etc.).
  • Classroom staff should turn off classroom lights, close classroom shades/blinds and limit use of heat-generating technology (computers, projectors, etc.) whenever possible.
  • Turn on a fan. If you do not have a fan, your building custodian may be able to help you locate one.
  • Move classes to a lower part of the building, an air conditioned space or a more shaded side of the building if space is available. 
  • Know your plan to rotate students and staff to cooled spaces. 
  • Hold outdoor activities or field trips in a shaded area.
  • Make sure that students and staff stay hydrated and have easy access to water. Encourage our youngest learners to write their names on disposable water bottles, so that they can refill throughout the day. 
  • Encourage parents to dress their children appropriately for warm weather in accordance with school dress codes, including hats and sunscreen if spending time outside.

Families have the option to keep their children home if they feel that is in their best interest. If they do keep their children home, they should follow our attendance guidelines. We look forward to welcoming students in grades 1-12 tomorrow and pre-K and kindergarten students on Thursday, Sept. 7.

Watch more local news:

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities and across Minnesota in our YouTube playlist:


Download the free KARE 11+ app for Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and other smart TV platforms to watch more from KARE 11 anytime! The KARE 11+ app includes live streams of all of KARE 11's newscasts. You'll also find on-demand replays of newscasts; the latest from KARE 11 Investigates, Breaking the News and the Land of 10,000 Stories; exclusive programs like Verify and HeartThreads; and Minnesota sports talk from our partners at Locked On Minnesota. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out