Toowoomba teacher makes unusual plea for air-con

A TOOWOOMBA teacher suffering through the recent heatwave has taken the unusual step of asking for crowdfunding support for air-conditioning to be installed in her classroom.

The teacher said she struggled to teach her Year 6 students effectively due to the heat in her classroom.

At its hottest the temperature peaks at 38 degrees and the teacher described it as "sitting in a hot box".

"For a few months at the beginning and end of the year, the conditions within our classroom are not very conducive to effective learning," she said.

"Our classroom is situated in one of the oldest buildings of our school, which is also the second oldest school in Queensland, having been built in 1851."

The building has been deemed to contain asbestos and therefore it is difficult to install air-conditioning.

It also has no insulation due to the age of the building.

"We can't even stick anything into the walls," she said.

The teacher says it's almost impossible to teach in the hot classroom.
The teacher says it's almost impossible to teach in the hot classroom.

"Teaching and learning is so important to me and this cannot be done properly by myself or the kids when we're sitting in an environment that feels like an oven.

"When temperatures can get up to around 38 degrees on some days, sitting in a hot box with windows that are only on one side of the room with no air or breeze - you can see why this is problematic for young children who are trying to concentrate on their learning in their final year of primary school.

"Our school is deemed to not be 'far enough out west' to need air-conditioning, but let's be real, how much work/learning do you think you could get done in these conditions?

"I can't even concentrate on what I'm teaching because the air is so stuffy and all you feel like doing is napping."

The teacher said each year, on average she spent about $2000 to $3000 of her money for school expenses to ensure her kids had all the equipment they needed, as well as making sure lessons are fun and engaging.

"Another $400 on top of this for an air-con is a lot, which is why I'm asking for your help," she said.

The teacher's appeal was posted to GoFundMe on January 14 and has already raised $290 of the $450 needed.

How the government manages heat at schools

Unless the principal or regional director determines that the school must temporarily close due to a disaster or emergency situation, Queensland state schools remain open and students are not sent home during periods of excessive heat or heat wave conditions.

Heatwave conditions are specifically when excessively high temperatures combine with high humidity levels and are sustained over a number of days.

That means, although the predicted maximum temperature for a region may be in the mid-to-high 30s, unless this coincides with high humidity and lasts for a few days, it is considered 'hot' rather than a 'heat wave'.


Managing schools during excessive heat or heat wave conditions:

  • Modify or suspend normal school activities during excessive heat
  • Postpone any outdoor or sporting activities where appropriate
  • Increase access to the coolest areas of the school grounds or facilities for lessons or other activities
  • Ensure students with special needs are appropriately supervised, including the monitoring of their hydration
  • Ensure school lunch boxes are stored in cool areas facilitate and encourage students to drink plenty of water and to stay out of the sun. Department of Health recommends that during hot weather, water (room temperature or slightly cool rather than very cold) is the best fluid to drink. Drinks containing caffeine as well as drinks containing excessive sugar should be limited or avoided altogether
  • Undertake normal first aid procedures in the event of a student or staff member becoming heat stressed
  • Prepare a communication strategy for the school community informed by the assistant regional director that the school falls within the Extreme Heat Warning Zone (a heat wave is imminent).

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