GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some schools, including Grand Rapids Public Schools, will take half days or close as heat index values are expected to reach over 100 degrees in West Michigan this week.

GRPS announced on Wednesday all schools would have a half day Thursday due to the heat. Afternoon and evening events are canceled.

“With the humidity and air temperatures in the forecast tomorrow, it will simply be too warm in some of our buildings as we move into the afternoon,” Superintendent Leadriane Roby said in a statement. “It’s a difficult call to make so early in the school year but when temperatures reach such high levels it raises a safety concern.”

District spokesman Leon Hendrix said the district decided to hold normal classes Wednesday because the heat was expected to be the worst late in the afternoon. That wasn’t the case for Thursday.

“We felt it would be best to cancel school for the second half of the day only. We still will get to see our scholars for the first half of the day but get them home and get them out of that school building before the temperatures really crank up,” Hendrix said.

Most GRPS schools have air conditioning, but not all — Aberdeen Academy, Grand Rapids Montessori, Mulick Park Elementary, Stocking Elementary and Southeast Career Pathways don’t have A/C. Kent Hills Elementary has partial air conditioning. Some of the warmer classrooms were inching toward 90 degrees late Wednesday afternoon, Hendrix said.

Recognizing that many families have children in multiple buildings, the district decided for a blanket half day rather than asking families to work out different plans for each child.

GRPS released a list of dismissal times for all its schools. Administrative offices will be open. Hendrix said the forecast for Friday was looking good for a regular day.

He said a bond question on the November ballot could direct $305 million to the district over the next decade and help pay for A/C in every building.


Grand Haven Area Public Schools said its elementary, intermediate and middle schools would have half days on Wednesday and Thursday. Central High School would also have half days, but Grand Haven High School was expected to be open as planned for full days. Open Door Child Care will only be available in the morning.

Kenowa Hills Public Schools decided students would follow a normal half day schedule for Thursday. Elementary schools will dismiss at 12:05 p.m. After school child care will be available for those who normally use it, the district said. Middle and high school will have shortened classes and dismiss at 11:14 a.m. Kenowa Hills’ second and third session Kent Career Technical Center sessions were canceled for high school students. Afternoon Early Childhood Special Education classes were canceled. The district said it will decide by 1 p.m. Thursday whether athletic practices and events will go on.

Cedar Springs Public Schools said Beach Elementary School would be closed Thursday, while all other schools would follow their regular schedules.

“You take it on a day-by-day, case-by-case basis,” Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Scott Smith said. “So we’re engaging differently with our extracurricular activities when students are on campus after school — providing extra water breaks, canceling practice if needed, postponing practice or pushing events off to later in the day so we can provide a healthier experience and a healthier environment.”

Smith said Beach Elementary was the district’s only school without a climate control system.

“The rest of CSPS buildings were updated with air conditioning and circulation after a bond passed back in 2020,” he explained.

Jenison Public Schools shifted to half-days on Wednesday and Thursday. All after-school care would be closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

Several sports practices and games have been rescheduled or postponed.

“I think most people are thinking by 7 o’clock, a usual game time start, the temperatures will be easing off a little bit,” said Geoff Kimmerly, communications director for the Michigan Athletic High School Association.

The National Weather Service issued heat advisories for Allegan, Barry, Kent and Ottawa counties from noon Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday. Heat advisories were issued for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren countries from 8 a.m. Wednesday to 2 a.m. Friday.

Due to hot temperatures and high humidity, heat index values were expected to reach as high as 104 degrees.

“Heat waves have more serious impact on children compared to adults because their bodies have some distinct challenges on regulating body temperature,” Dr. Ron Grifka, chief medical officer at University of Michigan Health-West, said. “They don’t really recognize the temperature that they have or exposed to and they really rely on adults to protect them from overheating, be it parents, coaches and caregivers.”

Those who work or will be spending time outside were advised to take extra precautions, like wearing lightweight and loose-fitting clothing, drinking plenty of fluids, staying out of the sun, staying in an air-conditioned room and checking on relatives and neighbors.