Angelina Reed
Denver Classroom Teachers Association

August 23, 2023

Statement from Rob Gould, special education teacher and president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) on Denver Public Schools Classroom Heat Concerns: 

“There is nothing more important to educators than providing a safe, welcoming, and high-quality learning environment for all students, regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or zip code. However, we must address a concern that has been affecting our working and learning environments.

“The changing climate has brought increasingly hot temperatures, and we are witnessing the direct impact of this in our schools, particularly at the beginning and end of each year. This heatwave has taken a toll on our students’ ability to learn effectively, leaving them fatigued and struggling to concentrate.

This concern is not new, which is why there are avenues within the DCTA contract that allow educators to bring heat concerns forward. In most cases the building leader consults with educators on their  school leadership team but this practice isn’t consistent within all schools. There’s a noticeable hesitation on the district’s side to establish or communicate thresholds that would support a schools ability to call for a school closure or early release due to heat. Our discussions with educators indicated that classrooms would need to reach temperatures as high as 87 degrees for the district to approve an early release or closure. Ultimately, the final decision lies in the hands of the district officials who often work in air-conditioned buildings.

We urge school leaders to involve school leadership teams in tackling heat-related concerns. District officials should communicate clear and realistic thresholds to educators and families that would call for modified days or additional cooling supports.  We additionally call on Denver Public Schools officials to back decisions made at the school level to either release early or close when faced with heat-related problems. ”