INDIANAPOLIS — As an intense heat wave sweeps through central Indiana, people are doing what they can to stay cool. That includes everyone who spends all day in a classroom. Sports contests are getting postponed, and even some bus routes have been adjusted.

In a social media post, the Perry Township Metropolitan School District asked families to let administrators know if their children have any health-related issues that might be impacted by extreme heat. It’s one of several districts putting out a warning this week.

This week we will be monitoring the extreme temperatures and heat index outside. As a result, staff will make adjustments to outdoor activities as appropriate. This may include changes in recess schedules and after-school activities. Hydration will be important for all of our students and staff as we navigate the week, and we will increase access to bottled water and refilling stations. We continue to make transportation adjustments so that our bus routes are shorter and we reduce the time buses sit on parking lots. Bus drivers have been instructed to get kids home as quickly as possible while keeping your child safe. Please let your child’s school know of any health-related issues that may be impacted by the extreme heat. At Perry Township Schools, the safety of students and staff is a top priority.

Perry Township Schools via Facebook

Perry Township is also among districts already making changes to outdoor activities.

“We’re supposed to have a game Friday night here against Perry Meridian,” said Kevin Linson, who is the grandfather of a Southport High School student. “If it stays as hot as it’s supposed to get Thursday on Friday, they’ll have to do something.”

Perry Township Superintendent, Dr. Patrick Spray, said football practice was moved up to 5:30 a.m. to avoid scorching temperatures. The district is also shortening bus routes and instructing drivers to get kids home as quickly as possible.

“We have air circulating on those buses, so we try to limit the amount of time they’re sitting on the parking lot with students in them,” Spray said.

He added that Perry Township is also stressing the importance of hydration.

“(We’re) increasing the number of water breaks,” Spray said. “Many of our kids bring their own water bottles. We have water filling stations.”

Spray said that all buildings in his district are properly cooled. The air conditioner went down briefly Monday at Winchester Village Elementary, but Spray said it was quickly repaired.

Over in the Hamilton Southeastern School District, safety director Mike Johnson is monitoring heat indices before he makes changes.

“There have been some discussions about something like recess coming inside,” Johnson said. “As of right now, we’re still operating in kind of the yellow category.”

Johnson uses a “child care weather watch” chart that gives his staff guidance on how to monitor children based on outdoor temperatures. When it gets hot enough, the chart advises kids be moved indoors to cool down.

When temperatures fall into the chart’s red zone, most children should not play outside due to the health risk.

“Based on the forecast that we’re seeing, there’s some possibilities that could happen (Wednesday),” Johnson said.

Johnson added that athletic events have already been shifted, and temperatures on the field will determine any future changes, including for recess.

“We will try to formalize that to a point where it’s consistent across the district as much as we can, but there could be differences from one geographic location to another,” Johnson said.

Beech Grove City Schools alerted the public over social media about its “Hornet Park Night Out” event being postponed until September 29.

“We are so sorry to have to postpone this event, but due to the temperatures and heat this week, we feel this is the best decision,” Hornet Park Elementary School administrators wrote. “The rescheduled date is Friday, September 29, 2023. More information to come.”

The Lawrence Township Metropolitan School District shared the following information about their heat-related protocols:

The MSD of Lawrence Township works closely with Community Health Network athletic training staff with regard to accommodating outdoor extracurricular activities in extreme temperatures. When necessary, practices are moved indoors or cancelled. Several competitions this week are being rescheduled or have shifted times to cooler parts of the day. Attached is a heat chart used by schools and provided by the IHSAA as a guide. Athletic trainers are present at all athletic practices and competitions to assist in making determinations around safe conditions for physical exertion.

Dana Altemeyer, Director of Communications

The Indianapolis Public Schools District provided the following information about their heat-related protocols in a blog post shared Tuesday:

In response to the extreme heat, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) is actively reviewing and adjusting policies, procedures, and facilities to ensure that district staff are equipped to handle extreme heat events effectively.

The district has implemented comprehensive strategies that include closely monitoring and optimizing ventilation systems, adjusting scheduling to avoid peak heat times, providing access to hydration stations, and closely monitoring students and staff for signs of heat-related distress.

Indianapolis Public Schools

IPS has also implemented the following guidance for its staff:

– Adjust blinds to deflect the sun and heat
– Utilize ceiling fans and other types of fans
– Provide extra water and water breaks, allow water bottles
– Move children to cooler areas when space is available
– Limit athletics and restrict outdoor activities (moving practices indoors if possible)
– Relax dress code appropriately

IPS guidance for parents:

– Dress your child in cool, light weight clothing
– Make sure your child is hydrated and has adequate rest
– Avoid hot foods and heavy meals – they add heat to the body IPS remains dedicated to providing a safe, conducive, and inclusive learning environment
– We appreciate the support of our community and remain steadfast in our commitment to adapting to the challenges presented by changing weather patterns