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Baden high school students 'can’t even focus' dealing with lack of air conditioning

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Not only is it hot outside of Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School but students say it’s also hot inside the school.

The air conditioning system has not been working in all areas of the Baden school.

“It’s really bad, it’s really unfortunate because we get really hot, just overheat all of the time all week,” said grade 10 student Hudson Waechter.

Students said the heat is affecting their learning.

“It’s obviously brutal. You’ll be sitting in math class trying to write a summative or an exam and you just can’t even focus because you’re wiping sweat of your face,” said grade 10 student Aiden Golden.

In a statement, Bill Lemon, Acting Associate Director at the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), told CTV they are aware the issue.

“There have been issues with functionality reported about certain air conditioning units in the building, given the extreme heat conditions. Facility Services staff tell us all units are working today,” Lemon said.

The board said all their elementary and secondary schools have some form of mechanical cooling, and about 75 per cent of their overall spaces in schools are air conditioned. The board noted that does not include areas that don’t have air conditioning like gyms, corridors, washrooms, change rooms and utility spaces.

The WRDSB said it is adding more air conditioning to schools, as appropriate and as budget allows. Lemon said Waterloo-Oxford is among the schools that will be getting more air conditioning units put in this summer.

During the heat wave, WRDSB officials said it is following guidance from public health and implementing the board’s administrative procedure on extreme temperatures and outdoor activities during extreme temperatures.

The written guidance for dealing with heat and humidity ranges from actions like closing drapes and windows on the sunny side of the school to encouraging drinking water and avoiding vigorous activity.

Grade 11 student Landan Quackenbush said many students in his class passed on physical education on Wednesday.

“Half the people in my class today said ‘I'm just going to skip class’ because we had to do physical activity in the gym that has no A/C,” he said.

Quackenbush stayed, but says he felt horrible by the time the class ended.

“I’m going home now because I’m pretty sweaty.”

As for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, senior manager of communications, Lena Salaymeh said all of their learning spaces are air conditioned.

Salaymeh noted that one elementary school did have a system that was being repaired this week, during which time portable cooling units and fans were brought to the school.

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