Amid expected heat wave, Jenison schools plan half days

Ottawa County

JENISON, Mich. (WOOD) — Tuesday morning marks the dawn of a new beginning for Jenison Public Schools.

Superintendent Tom TenBrink is easing students and staff back into the school year half days. He said it’s unsafe to have them inside wearing face coverings when there’s a heat wave going on outside.

“Sitting in a classroom where it’s a real feel of 93-degree temperatures, where there’s a real feel of high humidity, that’s just not doable in the afternoon,” TenBrink said.

Administrators said they’re preparing to welcome back about 4,400, or 81%, to the classroom. The others are learning virtually. Ahead of their arrival, staff members are assigning each student a Jenison mask and water bottle. Both will be labeled with a student’s initials.

“I’ve never ever dealt with what we’re dealing with today,” TenBrink said.

Medical professionals admit schools are navigating uncharted waters but said it’s important to consider the heat when sending kids to school in PPE.

“For those who might have asthma or breathing problems concerns, it could make them feel much more claustrophobic,” said Meaghan Crawley, Injury Prevention and Outreach coordinator for Spectrum Health.

Moreover, nurses said the condensation and sweat buildup inside the masks will encourage students to expose their nose and mouth for relief or damage masks that don’t work when wet.

“That’s going to increase the risk of spreading the virus,” Crawley said.

TenBrink said teachers and students will have another half day because of the heat on Wednesday. He said he’s still deciding what he’s going to do about Thursday. In the meantime, he said he’s added another school nurse to the district, creating two medical professionals on staff.

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