“We manage with Mr Freeze”: it’s 29°C at school… and it’s only May

“We manage with Mr Freeze”: it’s 29°C at school… and it’s only May
“We manage with Mr Freeze”: it’s 29°C at school… and it’s only May

Teachers and students in the midst of preparing for end-of-year exams already have to endure the “unbearable” in their classroom where it was 29°C or more last week, a problem that is repeated more and more often. .

“I am lucky. I’m the one who has the “cold” class at school,” says Magalie* (fictitious name), who teaches primary school in Montreal, in all seriousness.

In his premises, it was 29°C on Wednesday. And this, even though the month of May is not over.

“Among my colleagues on the floor above, it went up to 34°C,” she emphasizes.

Thanks to new CO sensors2 installed in all schools, teachers can see the temperature and humidity level in their premises in real time.

Several teachers have published photos of their sensor on social networks in recent days to illustrate the hellish conditions in which the dilapidation of their building puts them.

Most of these buildings were built at the beginning of the 20e century, at a time when heat episodes in May, June or September were exceptional.

Temperatures clearly exceeded the normal of 21°C last week, with the mercury reaching 31.3°C in Montreal, indicates Kevin Cloutier of MétéoMédia.



Courtesy photo

The sensor from a secondary school class, photographed on Wednesday.

However, these episodes are likely to be repeated more and more often due to climate change. Globally, April 2024 was the 11the hottest consecutive month in history, illustrates the meteorologist.


In Antoine*’s class, it was so humid on Wednesday that the 29°C must have felt close to 45°C, he estimates.

“It’s disgusting […] As for me, it’s negligence” on the part of the school, he is indignant.

The teachers interviewed see the symptoms blatantly in their students: they are slumped over their desks, physically unable to pay attention, not to mention absenteeism.

In certain premises, even opening windows or installing fans cannot reduce the temperature felt, teachers report.

“Literally there are times when I stop teaching and go to the park [avec les jeunes] because it’s just no use,” admits Magalie*.

Equal chance in exams?

Some see this as an issue of equity between young people who study in an old building and those who are in the private sector or in a new school. “Do all students have the same opportunity to succeed?” wonders Xavier*, who is in the middle of preparing for the ministry’s history exams.

All young people aged 4e secondary school will be subjected to the same three-hour test at the same time, but his students risk suffering from the heat while elsewhere, the young people will take it comfortably in air conditioning.

Teachers are refused the installation of their own air conditioner

The problems of suffocating heat in classrooms are not taken seriously by school leaders, deplore teachers who are refused the installation of air conditioning in their premises, even at their own expense.

“We manage the heat with Mr Freeze,” quips Magalie*.

“Apart from distributing popsiclesnot much is being done,” laments Éliane*, a primary school teacher whose sensor showed a humidity level of more than 60% on Thursday.



Courtesy photo

The mercury exceeded 27°C in Éliane*’s primary school class on Wednesday. On Thursday, the conditions were just as unbearable, she reports.

“All that remains is to bear the unbearable,” sighs the one who was already sweating even before the children arrived in her class.

In recent years, several teachers have been refused the installation of an air conditioner, even when they offered to pay for it out of their own pocket, notes Catherine Beauvais-St-Pierre, president of the Alliance of Teachers of Montreal .

Antoine* wanted to bring his own and was told no on the pretext that he needed a device approved by the Montreal School Service Center (CSSDM).

“So I asked for an approved device. We refused and they never explained to me why,” he reports.

Even with a medical note

Mme Beauvais-St-Pierre reports the case of a person who had a particular medical problem, with a doctor’s note, and who was nevertheless refused these solutions.

“The argument given was that installing and maintaining the device would be expensive and require human resources,” she says.

By email, the CSSDM explains that it must take into account the “architectural characteristics” of each school, some of which do not allow for a complete ventilation system. “Great importance is given to hydrating regularly,” specifies Alain Perron, from the communications department.

For its part, the CNESST indicates that there are no temperature standards specific to school environments. “It is up to the employer to take the necessary measures to protect […] the physical and psychological integrity of the worker,” we respond by email.

Broken fans

Magalie* doesn’t even have a fan since most of those bought by the concierge last year are already broken.

Meanwhile, almost all the teachers interviewed mention that there is indeed air conditioning… in the office of their principal or vice-principal.

*Fictitious names: the teachers interviewed requested anonymity to avoid reprisals from their school service center.

Are you experiencing an unfair situation in your school environment?

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