Some Winnipeg schools struggle with air conditioning as heat sticks around

As hot weather is expected to move back into Winnipeg, some are now raising concerns on the conditions inside the classroom. Edward Djan has more.

Despite the cooler temperatures Winnipeg is experiencing, the heat is expected to return.

“A number of models are saying some very similar things. We temperatures could be quite hot by the time we get to early next week,” said Environment Canada.

And with the heat comes fears of staying all day in classrooms without A/C.

“We’ve been hearing from a lot of our members that the temperatures in classrooms are extremely hot and it’s making it very, very uncomfortable to not only be teaching, but also to make sure that the children are safe in the room as well,” said Nathan Martindale, president of the Manitoba Teachers Society.

Gordon Giesbrecht Kinesiology Professor at the University of Manitoba added, “Well, you’re going to start to get uncomfortable, certainly. I think the best thing is to have breaks. And of course, where do you take your breaks if you’re in a hot school when it’s hot outside and there’s no air conditioning”

CityNews sent a statement to all school divisions within Winnipeg ahead of the anticipated hotter weather asking how many schools were equipped with air conditioning.

The Louis Riel School Division has not responded at this time.

While the Pembina Trails School Division did not provide a number, they did say that their Facilities and Operations Department is quote, “doing everything they can to keep things running.”

As for other schools across the city, the Winnipeg School Division says they have 27 facilities with no air conditioning and 16 that are partially air conditioned.

The St. James-Assiniboia School Division says all their schools have air conditioning but that two schools are currently undergoing scheduled maintenance, putting A/C units at those locations out of operation.

The Seven Oaks School Division says only two of their schools don’t have A/C throughout.

And The River East Transcona School Division says 32 out of their 42 schools have A/C.

The division added that they ask the province every year in their capital plan for A/C for multiple schools.

“There’s not a school division in the province that won’t tell you that the funding that we need has just not kept up, even with inflation, for a number of years,” said Sandy Nemeth, president of the Manitoba School Boards Association.

In a statement to CityNews Minister of Education and Early Childhood Learning Wayne Ewasko says the province has increased funding this year for K-12 schools by $100 million to maintain infrastructure.

He added that nearly $13 million investment for 32 schools and health-care facilities to upgrade ventilation systems.

Martindale says a solution to fix the heat in classrooms will require a multifaceted approach

“Different bodies have different responsibilities. So, for example, school divisions need to have in place different policies and procedures to ensure a safe working environment. And that looks different from division to division across the province.”

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