Managing excessive heat at school
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 7, 5 October 2018, page no. 17
Managing schools during conditions of excessive heat is a very real issue for Queensland schools. That’s why this term, QTU members are encouraged to talk about the strategies you can implement to keep staff and students comfortable and safe during a heatwave.
This should be done at a whole school level to ensure all members have input into the school strategy.
Questions for consideration
How do we decide when we need to modify or suspend normal school activities and which activities we suspend?
You may wish to consider:
- issues relating to outdoor activities such as sport and outdoor PE
- issues relating to regular classroom instruction
- issues relating to outdoor playground areas
- any other school activities.
What do we replace these activities with?
Suggestions may include:
- creation of folders of alternative activities
- combining groups of students to ensure all staff get proper breaks
- specialists such as HPE teachers supervising in regular classrooms
- opening of indoor lunch areas and shifting of PGD areas to supervise these
- quiet activities such as reading or watching something on the IWB
- relocation to cooler areas of the school
- other suggestions?
When an activity can’t be halted (eg QCS test or NAPLAN testing), is there a cool area it could be relocated to?
How do we prioritise access to cooler areas in the school during excessive heat?
What other things can we do to keep cool and safe during a heatwave?
You may wish to consider things like:
- spray bottles of water
- water bottles in classrooms and/or extra water breaks
- health and wellbeing reminders to staff and students
- cool storage areas for student lunch boxes
- relocation to cool area for students with medical conditions or complex needs
- should we train staff to better recognise symptoms of heat stress?
- other suggestions?
How could we communicate our strategy to parents?
You may wish to divide into smaller groups and ask each person to share what they believe are the most significant items that would make a difference in response to the prompt questions. Groups should collate their feedback to report back to the larger meeting.
You should then:
- share these ideas and consider which of these could be implemented at school and what support or resources would be required to make this a reality.
- consider whether anything needs to be followed up in relation to these ideas, and who will have responsibility for making a plan.
After the meeting, you might like to contact the QTU to let us know what was discussed and some of the solutions you have come up with or positive things that are happening in your workplace in relation to managing extreme heat.
Further information relating to thermal stress, hot weather and heat waves
DET guidelines and policy for managing excessive heat in schools
BOM information and advice relating to thermal stress
Sports Medicine Australia Hot Weather Guidelines
Queensland Government Emergency Services and Safety – Heatwave
Workcover information relating to heat stress and school
Queensland Health information for managing heat related illness
Deputy General Secretary - Member Services