As climate change makes temps rise, so does urgency to make schools cooler

When John Coats goes to work at Emlen Elementary School in East Mount Airy, the best way to teach addition and subtraction is not the only thing on his mind. He also has to worry about keeping his students cool.

Emlen is one of more than 100 schools in the School District of Philadelphia – or about 60% – that lack central air conditioning. Coats estimates just about a third of the classrooms at Emlen have functional window units, but his second-floor classroom is not one of them.

“It’s an old building built in 1925, so it maintains the heat,” he said. “When the sun hits it, it’s hotter in the building than it is outside.”

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