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Should Montreal have heat days? Parents worry about kids at school

Click to play video: 'Montreal schools stay open, despite heat wave'
Montreal schools stay open, despite heat wave
WATCH: Montreal students were not given a day off school, despite the fall heat wave. As Global's Felicia Parrillo reports, some parents say they’re concerned about their children’s safety – Sep 26, 2017

St-Edmunds Elementary in Beaconsfield, on the West Island, is just one of many Montreal-area schools without air-conditioning.

On Tuesday, temperatures reached as high as 30 C — with a humidex value between 35 C to 40 C.

Teachers and staff said they’re doing everything they can to keep everyone cool.

“I’m coming in early in the mornings, I open the window to have some fresh air…I close the drapes to avoid the sun,” said Nathalie Duhamel, a teacher.

Although parents say the measures are appreciated, some still dropped by the school during lunch to make sure the kids were OK.

READ MORE: Heat warning issued for Montreal as schools scramble to keep students cool

“I’m just rushing in to pick them up for lunch because we live really close and it is so hot,” said mother of three, Pixie Drury.

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“They’ve been complaining about the heat and I know some people kept their kids home for the whole day, but I didn’t want them to miss school.”

Parents at St-Edmunds Elementary say they were relieved to find out their school’s Terry Fox Run, initially scheduled for Wednesday, had been postponed.

The fundraisers are still taking place elsewhere; the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) says it’s leaving that decision up to the individual schools.

READ MORE: Montreal heat beats 126-year-old record

“They’re going to consider them walks and they’re going to do them earlier in the morning, when it’s 21, 22 C, so it’s not in the mid-afternoon sun,” said LBPSB assistant director general Carol Heffernan.

Global News medical expert, Dr. Mitch Shulman, says the public schools are doing their best, but it’s also important for kids to have some time in air-conditioning.

READ MORE: Montreal marathon cancelled because of dangerous heat conditions

“If you have a little kid and it’s really, really hot, maybe after school, take the kid to the mall, or to a movie or to a restaurant,” he said.

“That hour or two in the cool with make a huge difference in terms of their ability to cope.”

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Quebec Education Minister Sébastien Proulx said he doesn’t plan to impose “heat days” — similar to snow days — any time soon.

“It’s not in the plans right now. If someone wants to bring it up in future negotiations, maybe we can discuss it, but the reality right now is that everyone has good sense and judgement,” he said.

“If it’s too hot in a class, we change classes; if we have to go outside, we’ll do just that.”

For parents who have opted to keep their children home during the heat wave, EMSB, LBPSB and Riverside school boards all say it will count as an absence.

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