August 1, 2018 5:38 pm
Updated: August 1, 2018 5:53 pm

Durham District School Board installing air conditioning in schools

It's hard to believe, but the new school year is right around the corner. The Durham District School Board is in the process of making facilities more comfortable for students and staff. Aaron Streck has the story.

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It’s hard to believe, but the new school year is right around the corner.

The Durham District School Board is in the process of making facilities more comfortable for students and staff.

Tessa Welling isn’t quite old enough to go to school this year but will be attending a public school next fall in Oshawa. Her father, Wesley, is relived to know that there will be air conditioning.

“The end of June it gets pretty hot, so I would say it’s a great idea to keep the kids and teachers cool,” Wesley said.

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“It’s been something we’ve wanted to do for quite some time,” said Shawn O’Brien, senior manager of DDSB Facilities Services.

Stephen G. Saywell Public School in Oshawa opened in 1990. This summer, work is underway to install air conditioning in the school library and office — part of the DDSB’s three-year plan to have AC in all of its schools.

“The weather is very unpredictable and it can get very warm and uncomfortable in spaces,” O’Brien said. “We’ve listened to those complaints and we’re trying to make equity across all our schools so that we ensure that every school will now have a place of respite.”

Besides Stephen G. Saywell, air conditioning units are also being installed at the following schools this summer.

  • Dr. S. J. Phillips PS
  • E. A. Fairman PS
  • Fairport Beach PS
  • Highbush PS
  • Lester B. Pearson PS
  • Roland Michener PS
  • Uxbridge PS
  • William Dunbar PS

The DDSB hopes to have the work completed before students are back next month.

“[With] some of our systems that are older, we have to do full construction jobs, we really have technically… seven weeks in the summertime, so that time frame is very narrow and the work involved is very difficult to get done in seven weeks,” O’Brien said. “So in some cases we’ve had to break up the school, so we will do a portion in one summer and follow up completion the following summer.”

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Dr. Ray Copes is with Public Health Ontario

“Having an optimum temperature environment can improve performance,” said Copes, Public Health Ontario Environmental and Occupational Health Chief.

He says you can’t put a price on comfortable learning environments.

“We’ve traditionally thought about air conditioning perhaps as a bit of a luxury, but there’s actually some pretty good evidence to show that the temperature in a room can affect your cognitive performance as well as having some other health affects,” said Dr. Copes.

Twenty-two schools across the DDSB without AC will be getting partial air conditioning which includes the library and office over the next three years, while seven others will receive full air conditioning.

The project is expected to cost $17.6 million.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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