Heat makes outdoors out of bounds for kids

HATS and sunscreen are the order of every day at Tamworth schools but yesterday as the mercury climbed, many schools introduced additional precautions to keep students cool.

Carinya Christian School took the decision early in the day to invoke the school executive’s “no play” rule as forecasters predicted temperatures to hit 40 degrees Celsius and beyond around the region.

In Tamworth, it was already 28C degrees at 9am, climbing to 35C at noon and 38C by 2pm.

Carinya’s deputy principal Bruce Martin said the school’s ovals were closed to students during the lunchtime break, and the junior students – kindergarten to Year 4 – had lunch in their classrooms.

The older students had the option of using shaded areas outside or eating lunch in classrooms opened for the break.

“As soon as you get (a temperature) with a four in front of it, you have to start taking precautions ... it starts becoming a health risk,” Mr Martin said.

At Tamworth South Public School, the heat also initiated the “extreme weather” policy and from 2pm there were no outside activities, students having afternoon tea in their classrooms. St Edward’s also closed its ovals and had students remain in shaded areas during the breaks.

Tamworth Public principal Lee Preston said yesterday morning the school was monitoring the temperature and making decisions accordingly. 

He said the school was fortunate it had so many trees and several large covered areas where students could stay out of the sun.

But, if by lunchtime staff considered the temperature too high, outside activities would be limited or cancelled.

All schools said their teachers would be keeping a close watch on students to ensure they were well hydrated, particularly younger children who weren’t so good at regulating their water intake, with water bottles permitted in the classroom.

An Education Department spokesman said in hot weather public schools adopted a more flexible approach to the school day, from allowing drink bottles in class to postponing sporting or physical activities that might stress students or expose them to the sun.

With temperatures to remain in the high 30s for most of this week, he said parents could also assist by ensuring their children took a drink and hat to school and applied sunscreen before they left home.

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