Sweltering under Day 3 of record-breaking heat

Heat takes a toll on move-in day at the U, fair numbers and first day of school in Mpls.

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A record-setting heat wave scorched sidewalks, sports fields and schools across the state Monday, with dozens of school events postponed or rescheduled to cooler hours of the day. Students sweated through move-in day at the U dorms, popular downtown food trucks were sidelined in Minneapolis, and folks appeared to be staying away from the State Fair.

In Minneapolis, kids will be back in class Tuesday, despite a blistering opening day that saw teachers and students hefting bags of ice and hovering in front of fans in an effort to keep their cool.

Although temperatures should moderate some later in the week, no real relief is expected through the weekend.

The late-summer heat wave enveloped much of the Midwest. Schools in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Illinois let out early as temperatures crept toward the mid-90s — and beyond in some places.

The thermometer hit 97 in the Twin Cities, soaring past the previous record of 94, but the heat and humidity combined to produce a “feels like” factor of 106. A 96-degree reading was forecast for Tuesday, which would fall short of the record but still leave students, workers and athletes feeling like they were sweltering in 102-degree weather.

That had some Minneapolis parents thinking about keeping their kids home instead of sending them to classrooms without air conditioning.

”I have a second-grader and I’m going to assess whether he’s going to stay home tomorrow,” said Maria Fernandez, a parent at Kenny Community School in southwest Minneapolis, where only some spaces are cooled.

Another parent, Sandrine Hedrick, was weighing the same decision, noting that kids in her daughter’s first-grade class were red and sweaty.

A thermometer there registered 97 degrees Monday.

After fielding questions from other concerned parents, the Minneapolis Public Schools announced Monday night that schools will operate on a regular schedule Tuesday but all after-school activities, indoor and outdoor, will be canceled.

“Parents have the option to keep their children home if they feel necessary. Absences and late arrivals related to the weather conditions will be excused as long as parents follow their school’s procedure for excused absences,” the district said, adding that building engineers are monitoring classroom temps throughout the day.

Minneapolis Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said she had no second thoughts about going ahead with classes. “We have hot days during the year,” she said. “I think that we’ll be able to handle it.”

Ken Mowll of Prospect Park was not swayed by district assurances that fans and extra water could keep kids focused on learning. He held his sixth- and seventh-graders home from Sanford Middle School Monday.

“Most of their friends did go to school. I can’t imagine most kids are going to learn anything, and the poor teachers, they’re the ones who are going to have to work through this,” Mowll said.

St. Paul schools don’t start until next week, but athletes are practicing.

Teams will meet for afternoon and evening practices but physical activities will be “reduced and less strenuous,” the district said. All of Monday’s afternoon and evening games in St. Paul were postponed.

School-start date debate

With pressure on for longer school years to boost learning, Minneapolis and other districts are now routinely opening a week before Labor Day, running the risk of having to cope with late-August heat.

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  • First-grade teacher Tani Langree gave cups of ice to her students at Hiawatha Elementary School. Her room doesn’t have air conditioning.

  • A week of heat

    95

    Monday’s high: 97 (broke record of 94 from 1948)

    Tuesday forecast: (record is 99)

    Days of 90 or greater this year

    13 through Monday (season average is 14)

    Average daily high at Minnesota State Fair (through Monday):

    91.6 (2nd warmest on record)

    -39,779

    Fewer fairgoers Sunday, compared with first Sunday in 2012

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