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Published August 26 2013

Forum editorial: Good call for Fargo schools

Fargo school officials erred on the side of student safety and the condition of the classroom learning environment when they closed several elementary schools because of the late August heat. Schools without air conditioning will be closed at least through Wednesday, based on a weather forecast that has temperatures flirting with 100 degrees and humidity levels more associated with the Deep South than with the Red River Valley of the North. While not unheard of here, the late summer weather is unusual.

It was the right thing to do, even though the announcement Monday likely caused parents to grumble because they had to adjust quickly to having the kids at home. Those disruptions are not to be dismissed, but the more important factor is the safety and welfare of young students. In that regard, hot-box schools that are not cooling sufficiently at night should be closed until the weather changes – which it certainly will do.

Fargo’s newer elementary schools are air conditioned; most of the older buildings are not. Moreover, the older buildings likely are not as well-insulated as new structures, so they heat up. Whether the old buildings should be retrofitted with air conditioning is a question school officials might want to ponder. And given the debate about the ultimate fate of the older schools, air conditioning might be an option folded into a complete renovation of the buildings, if they remain viable neighborhood schools. But that debate is broader than Monday’s decision to close the schools for a few days.

Lost days on the school calendar will be made up. The work and play of education will resume when the weather cools to normal. School officials made the right call.

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.