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Connecticut schools starting earlier so snow days don’t extend the year, but heat waves mean more half days

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HARTFORD -- More than a dozen school districts sent students home from school early due to the heat Tuesday. Temperatures reached well into the upper 90s, setting records.

Many classrooms around the state don't have air conditioning, and the temperature can rise to dangerous levels once so many bodies fill up the school.

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"We felt that in the a.m. we can be productive--the temperature is tolerable," said Thomas Scarice, the superintendent of Madison Public Schools about why a half day is sufficient, but necessary. "As the little bodies populate the building, it gets warmer, the temperature goes up, it comes in through the glass ,the rooms get warmer."

Bill McMinn, who works with Madison schools, has a laser thermometer that he brings to each class to check how hot the room is. At desk level, the temperatures were up to 85 degrees in classrooms that weren't air-conditioned on Tuesday.

"If we air conditioned the place, we'd keep it in the low 70s," McMinn said for comparison's sake.

That is why Madison, and other districts, made the difficult call to have early dismissals, despite knowing that once the snow starts students will likely be kept out of class a lot more.

"Schools are starting earlier and earlier every year. You're looking at a three-week window now where you in New England can run into a serious heat wave," Scarice said. When asked why schools have to start so early, he explained "so that we don't have students in school 'til June 30 because of snow days."

While students are in class, the schools are ensuring they are hydrated with lots of water, shutting off the lights and shutting shades to keep any excess heat out, and utilizing fans and air conditioners in other rooms to bring a breeze into the school.

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