Citing "extreme" high temperatures, the Nantucket Public Schools will dismiss students early on Friday, and have canceled all indoor after-school activities.
The move follows similar precautions and closures implemented by schools across the state as a late-summer heat wave has impacted students' return to classrooms in many Massachusetts school districts.
Outdoor temperatures topped 80°F on the island on Friday, causing "extreme temperatures in our school buildings" Superintendent Beth Hallett said in a message to the school community. "The safety and well-being of our children and staff is of the utmost importance. Thank you for understanding."
Outdoor sports programs will follow MIAA guidelines for practices and games in elevated temperatures, the school announced, meaning they will likely be allowed to proceed.
Despite temperatures forecasted to be cooler on Friday - somewhere in the mid- to high-70°s range - the school still felt compelled to make the decision to dismiss students early.
The Current asked Hallett how high temperatures had reached inside the schools on Thursday, and about the air conditioning situation in the district's buildings.
"Our buildings retain a lot of heat," Hallett said. "Temperatures went above 85° in some classrooms at CPS (Cyrus Peirce Middle School) and NHS (Nantucket High School), but all schools struggled with temperatures and humidity. The NIS (Nantucket Intermediate School) cooling system recently broke on Tuesday, and although we had a company technician out on-island today to troubleshoot, the system will not be repaired by tomorrow. Select parts of buildings have air conditioning, but most are offices and larger meeting places that are not conducive to teaching. We don’t want our students and staff exhibiting signs of heat stress. We have to keep their safety and well-being at the forefront."
In response to the situation, the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club will open early on Friday, allowing students to attend from noon to 6 p.m. with full air conditioning. Executive director Jamie Foster said members are urged to bring their own lunch.