The school year came to an abrupt end Tuesday for students in the St. Paul Public Schools, with many given little to no chance to say goodbye to classmates and teachers.
The district, citing extreme heat, announced about 2 p.m. it was canceling classes through the remainder of a year that was set to end Friday.
Two-thirds of schools in the district do not have air conditioning, spokesman Kevin Burns said, and officials opted not to put student health and safety at risk.
Carrie Peltier, a parent at Chelsea Heights Elementary, said her children learned of the decision just 15 to 20 minutes before day's end. No time for farewells, she said, nor the traditional schoolwide send-off to fifth-graders, including her daughter Anna. Students and teachers in all classrooms line up to applaud fifth-graders leaving Chelsea for the final time.
"This is just a swing and a miss for St. Paul Public Schools," Peltier said.
Burns said, "We are very sorry that we are taking away those cherished opportunities and end-of-year rituals … But we have to continue to prioritize student safety and health."
Buildings will be open through the week and on Monday to allow students to turn in assignments. Sports events and graduation ceremonies will proceed as scheduled.
Minneapolis schools on Monday announced that students at 15 schools would shift to distance learning Tuesday through Thursday because of the heat, then return to school Friday to end the year.
St. Paul does not have the authority to shift to distance learning for a reason other than the COVID-19 pandemic, Burns said.
Overnight temps in the Twin Cities were expected to be only in the low 70s, with another chance at record highs Wednesday in the mid-90s.