I have to give a hearty round of applause to Fargo School District Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schatz who decided to cancel classes through Wednesday at five Fargo elementary schools due to the temperatures in the buildings. He made this decision after he visited a number of the sites on Sunday and confirmed that daytime temperatures were in the 85-90 degree range which was, according to Dr. Schatz, neither ideal for safety or learning. All five of the closed schools – Clara Barton, Horace Mann, Lewis and Clark, McKinley and Roosevelt – lack air conditioning. The forecast for the next few days promises more of the same weather we have been having – hot days and hot nights that do not allow school facilities to cool down.
Even though this is clearly the kind of action we want caring administrators to take, I am sure that there are plenty of folks willing to find fault with this decision. But not me – I appreciate this understanding of extreme temperatures as a hazard. According to Dr. Schatz, “We’re always going to err on the side of safety for our students and our staff.”
I imagine this news sent an awful lot of parents scrambling for care for the days their kids are now off school. There was likely some complaining and gnashing of teeth, some second guessing of Dr. Schatz’s decision, and a collection of folks who bemoaned the lack of hardiness kids today have – all while detailing the horrendous conditions they were able to endure when they were kids in school. But let’s face it, there are likely more folks who would have complained about the dangerous conditions had the schools not been temporarily closed. Heat can kill.
It is not easy making some of the decisions that must be made in school districts, but this one should be a lot easier to make. Above all else, a safe environment must be maintained. There should be no complaining going on by anyone about Dr. Schatz’s decision. Now, if you have a beef over the fact that the school sites don’t have air conditioning, take it up with the school board. In the short term, the district must deal with the realities of its existing facilities and the frailties of its clients and staff.
The bottom line is this – schools are responsible for children while they are in their care and we as a society do not want them to take that duty of care lightly. Dr. Schatz did the right thing in this situation. The folks with kids in the Fargo School District should find comfort in the fact that he put safety first.
I’ve got your back Dr. Schatz – the right decisions are not always easy, but they must be made. Again, I applaud your decision. I know a thing or two about emergency management and I am here to tell you – you are doing it right.
Day one thousand five hundred and nine of the new forty – obla di obla da