Parents frustrated by Allentown Schools’ lack of air conditioning, fear it threatens student health

Written by on September 2, 2022

Parents frustrated by Allentown schools’ lack of air conditioning, fear it threatens student health

By Sarah Mueller
September 2, 2022

Allentown School District’s Raub Middle School, where parents of one student say heat on the third floor has exacerbated her cystic fibrosis.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Parents and teachers have complained for years about the lack of air conditioning in several of Allentown School District’s classroom buildings.

But parents of one student with medical conditions say they worry the recent heat is endangering their child’s health.

Peggy Repasch’s daughter Zoey attends Raub Middle School, which was built in 1923.

Zoey has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that can cause those afflicted to sweat high amounts of salt out of their bodies in hot temperatures. That can cause them to become dehydrated.

Zoey is in sixth grade, which means her classroom is on the school’s third floor. Repasch said her daughter comes out of school every day red-cheeked and drained because of the high temperatures.

“You want to just fall asleep, cause you’re so exhausted from the heat,” the mother said. “The heat takes a lot out of you. How are these children learning in this heat?”

Allentown School District is using federal pandemic funding to upgrade 10 schools over three years with air conditioning.

It added HVAC units to Washington, Jackson and Mosser elementary schools this summer and plans additional upgrades over the next two summers.

But Raub is among three schools that won’t get that upgrade because they are in such bad shape.

Not a solution

Repasch said school officials have offered to have Zoey go to the school office to cool down when needed.

But she said that’s not the solution.

“So my child is supposed to miss what that teacher’s teaching to go down to their office to cool off?” she said.

Respasch said she’s getting assistance from a school counselor, but she wants the school administration to do more.

A spokeswoman with Allentown School District said it’s following an internal hot weather plan to keep students cool. That includes providing fans in classrooms, providing water bottles to students and staff, and limiting physical activity.

Temperatures outside are supposed to dip in the coming days. But Repasch said conditions inside the school are such that the building is hot whether it’s summer or winter.

“Say we’re in the dead of winter and it’s 20 degrees outside,” she said. “Have you ever been in those Allentown schools with their heat running? It’s the same thing as sitting in there in summer.”

There’s a petition asking the district to equip all of the schools with air conditioning. It currently has 120 signatures.


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