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Students still sweating in class, but leaving a little early

CHAMPAIGN -- Thousands of Central Illinois students got out of school early Tuesday because of the heat.
CHAMPAIGN -- Thousands of Central Illinois students got out of school early Tuesday because of the heat. School officials may keep up the trend for the rest of the week. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has more.

There's no air conditioning at Champaign's Central High School. A few rooms have it, like the main office and library, but the majority don't. So, you can imagine how tough it is to get through the day in a classroom on the third floor.

"It's been really hot the last couple of days," said English teacher Carolyn Atkinson. 

That's almost an understatement for teachers and students at Central. It's sometimes been hotter inside than out.

"My early morning classes are much more attentive," said Atkinson. "They're much more reactive. They'll raise their hands. They'll volunteer answers. In the afternoon, it's really just the glassy-eyed stare. But, they're trying. They really are."

For students who've been here before, this isn't anything new.

"I'm kind of used to it," said senior Ciara Lane. "I had summer school here one year. Never doing it again. It was really hot."

But, that doesn't make it any cooler, so they have to get a little creative.

"They gave out Popsicles, yes! And the good ones, not the little bitty ones," said Lane. 

"Setting up lots of fans strategically so that we get as much air movement as possible," said Atkinson. 

Other students made fans of their own or brought something to drink. So you can bet they were pretty relieved to get out early; just after 1 pm.

"When you get hot like that, it's like something in your body just doesn't want you to do too much," said Lane. 

Even though teachers say it's tough to cut down classes this early in the year, they say it's still the best option they have.

"The alternative would be to make up the days at the end of the year when it's also going to be hot," said Atkinson. 

Champaign high-schoolers have late start Wednesday, like every week. But, there's still a chance Central students could leave early. Because of state rules, the district can't decide that until Wednesday. The State Board of Education has rules for dismissing kids early for things like weather.

It states a school can make the call ahead of time and not use an emergency day as long as they get five hours of learning in. If a school makes the call the day of, they only need to be there for an hour.

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