PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The common number is 100 — about half of the school buildings in Portland are nearly 100 years old and the temperature on Tuesday is expected to near 100 degrees.
There is no built-in air conditioning at most of the Portland school buildings. That’s why the Portland teachers union asked the district to help alleviate what they say could be unhealthy working conditions.
As teachers prep their classrooms for the first day of the 2022-23 school year, open windows and fans are clearly visible. Some schools provide the fans while teachers in other schools provide their own.
Angela Bonilla, the president of the Portland Association of Teachers, handed out thermometers Monday to help staff keep an eye on the heat. Bonilla also contacted the district to ask for portable AC units and fans for classrooms.
There are state laws in Oregon that require more breaks for workers in the heat if it gets above 90 degrees if there aren’t ways to cool off the classrooms.
The union is also asking for more portable microphones to help teachers be heard over the fans and air purifiers.
Portland Public School officials responded to the union’s requests by recommending teachers open windows and gather in shaded outdoor areas.
However not all of the PPS buildings have windows that open.
District officials told KOIN 6 News they will monitor the conditions and “take steps to make classrooms without central air as comfortable as possible for our students and staff.”
Those steps include having the school ventilation systems run from midnight to 6 a.m. to circulate the cooler air, keeping the HVAC and portable HEPA units running as scheduled and modifying student activities as necessary.
The best bet for parents: Make sure your child wears loose, light-weight clothing, has a water bottle and provide a small fan if possible.