Schools without A.C. in St. Joseph dismiss kids early all week

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- About 13,000 children in St. Joseph will be going home from school early for the rest of the week because of high heat and humidity.

Fifteen schools in St. Joseph don't have air conditioning and that's prompted leaders to send students home early for the remainder of the week.

Only 8 out of 23 schools in St. Joseph have air conditioning, and with heat indexes expected to be around 100 degrees this week, there's not much learning that's going to be happening in hot buildings.

Students in all of St. Joe's public schools are going home at noon each day for the rest of the week, because the district says the sweltering conditions are a safety issue.

Inside Edison Elementary School, fans are circulating air almost everywhere you turn to make morning classes bearable. And the kids are getting frequent bathroom and water breaks to help them stay cool.

All the windows are open and the school district has brought in bottled water for the buildings without air conditioning.

Still, the district recognizes the early dismissals are likely to leave some parents scrambling for child care options.

"We had to look at the safety of our kids obviously and realize that having them in a 95-plus temperature room is not what's going to be best," said Jake Long, the district's safety, transporation and school services director. "We called this yesterday. We gave them plenty of notice to make these arrangements for them, to have child care arrangement made."

The district is in the middle of a $42-million capital improvement plan that is adding air conditioning in stages across the district. Four buildings will get central cooling next summer.

Even schools with air conditioning now are being dismissed early this week because of the way bus routes are set up.

A Catholic school, Bishop Leblond High School also is dismissing at noon.

Movies theaters in St. Joseph say they will open early this afternoon with matinees to accomodate kids.

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