OGDEN — It was hotter than normal at the beginning of September this year, leaving the interior of some Northern Utah schools feeling more like August.
The weather forecast in Ogden is cooling to the seventies this week, as low as 64 degrees Wednesday, Sept. 11. But last week, the state saw record-high temperatures.
The National Weather Service reported that the temperature at the Salt Lake Airport had hit 100 degrees on Sept. 1, the Sunday before Labor Day. This was first time that the state had hit that temperature in September since Sept. 8, 1979, the service said.
Ogden wasn’t quite as hot that day, coming in at 95 degrees, 12 degrees higher than average for that day, according to AccuWeather.
Farmington was closer to Salt Lake, at 98 degrees — 14 degrees higher than average in that area at that time of year, according to AccuWeather.
Temperatures the week after Labor Day remained about 10 degrees higher than average in Ogden.
A kindergarten classroom, at Horace Mann Elementary reached 77.4 degrees Friday, according to Jer Bates, communications director for Ogden School District.
The high in Ogden on Friday was 81 degrees, about 10 degrees lower than the previous days that week.
The district leadership team was visiting the school that morning, Bates said, and began working on a solution immediately. They determined the swamp cooler in the corridor “was not consistently being operated correctly,” and the issue has been corrected, Bates said.
Temperatures in the kindergarten classrooms at Horace Mann were 74 and 72 degrees Monday, after the problem had been addressed, Bates said. The district expects classroom temperatures to decline with the cooler weather this week.
“Every school (in Ogden School District) has some form of cooling system,” Bates said. “The effectiveness varies from one to another.”
Many buildings in the district were built in the 1950s and ‘60s, Bates said.
The age of many of the buildings in the district was a driving reason for the district bond initiative that was passed in 2018.
Ten of Ogden’s schools have full air conditioning, one has a combination of air conditioning and evaporative cooling (slated be replaced with full air conditioning as part of bond project) and seven have a combination of evaporative coolers and portable air conditioning units. Three of these seven will be replaced or remodeled with full air conditioning as part of the bond project.
“With buildings the age of some of ours, it is certainly not unheard of to experience a temporary small-scale problem with one of our systems,” Bates said in an email. “However, I have not found evidence that there is a widespread or ‘systemic’ problem in the schools.”
Bates said the district responds with short-term measures the same day a problem is reported. If repairs are required, the district completes these within one to two days.
The majority of schools in Weber School District have full air conditioning. Some older buildings only have partial air conditioning, said Lane Findlay, community relations specialist with the district.
Of Weber School District’s 43 schools, 10 have partial air conditioning.
According to Findlay, the schools with partial air conditioning in the district include Roy High (about half), North Ogden Junior High (the new addition has full air conditioning), Roy Junior (the new school being built has full air conditioning), T.H. Bell Junior High, A. Parley Bates Elementary, Lomond View Elementary, Pioneer Elementary, Riverdale Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary and Valley View Elementary.
Findlay said he was not aware of any air conditioning units failing to function since the beginning of the year.
When temperatures get higher than is comfortable, the district brings in fans and water and may relocate classes, Findlay said.
Almost all of Davis School District’s schools have full air conditioning, said Chris Williams, director of communications and operations at Davis School District, in an email.
“We’ve made great strides in this during the past three to five years,” Williams said. “At that time, 30 schools didn’t have air conditioning.” The district operates about 90 schools.
Now, only a few Davis facilities remain without air conditioning.
Sunset Junior High relies on a fan system, Williams said, and “the school is slated to be rebuilt.” The cost to provide air conditioning to the older building would be $10-15 million.
Williams said crews recently brought in box fans to move air through the school.
West Bountiful Elementary, which is currently being rebuilt, also lacks air conditioning.
Other facilities without air conditioning are Northridge High’s gym, Viewmont High’s gym, Clearfield High’s auditorium and field house and Bountiful High’s west classroom wing, field house and auditorium.
Since the beginning of the year, Sunset Junior High, Bountiful High’s west classroom wing and West Bountiful Elementary have had challenges with higher temperatures, Williams said. The district brought in 5- to 6-foot-tall box fans, which can drop the temperature 15 to 20 degrees depending on the humidity level.
The new Shoreline Junior High building in Layton has also had higher temperatures, “as its new cooling system is being commissioned,” Williams said.
The district also opens outdoor dampers in the morning and turns fans on from 2-3 a.m. to bring in cooler air, Williams said.
All new buildings are being built with air conditioning in all three districts.
“It’s one of the driving factors in replacing our older buildings,” Findlay said.
In Davis School District, the dress code is “adhered to at all times,” Williams said.
In Ogden and Weber Districts, school discretion is allowed on dress code requirements when temperatures are high. In Weber, this would be up to the principal, Findlay said.
“As a district administrator, I trust in our schools and their care for the well-being of our students,” Bates said.