Boulder Valley School District

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Rob Price

Assistant Superintendent, Operations
Assistant Superintendent, Operations

Managing Extreme Heat

Student and staff health and safety is a top priority for the Boulder Valley School District. Extremely hot weather can create uncomfortable, and even dangerous conditions inside and outside our schools, which can impact students’ health and ability to learn. BVSD has a variety of protocols in place to manage extreme heat. 

Inside Schools
Except for our mountain schools, all schools in BVSD have air conditioning in most indoor spaces, excluding gyms and some auditoriums and cafeterias. In addition, teachers and staff may open windows in the morning, close blinds to keep out direct sunlight or use other strategies to keep rooms cool. When temperatures in non-air conditioned spaces (such as gyms) climb to uncomfortable levels, teachers will work with the principal to move classes to cooler locations inside or outside the school.  

Recess and Outdoor Physical Activity
When outside temperatures exceed 95°F, schools will make adjustments to reduce strenuous outdoor PE activities and prolonged exposure to the sun. Students are encouraged to drink water before and after activity. Lunch is held under shade structures or in a classroom/building, with limited time given for free outdoor play.

Secondary Athletics
When temperatures exceed 95°F, coaches will modify practice, reduce conditioning, allow students to reduce gear and uniforms, and have water breaks every 15 minutes. If temperatures exceed 105°F, practice or games may be canceled.   

Night Purge Ventilation
BVSD uses nighttime purge ventilation to lower interior building temperatures overnight to reduce the cooling demand during the day. With night-purge ventilation, the ventilation is turned on in the early morning hours to pull cool outside air into the building, while exhausting stale, hot air out. This reduces the temperature of the thermal mass (walls, floors, and furniture), ventilating and cooling the building for the next day. 

Night purge ventilation has several benefits: It is cost-effective, is energy efficient, and is secure (vs. leaving windows open). This method is most effective when nighttime temperatures fall below 60°F for 3-4 hours. During the month of August, with higher outside temperatures at night, the nighttime purge is not as effective. 

Ensuring ventilation systems are performing at optimal levels is critical to the effectiveness of night purge ventilation. Preventative maintenance is performed during the summer by the HVAC team to check for proper function of all HVAC equipment. Beginning in June, the Maintenance Department starts all equipment and checks every building for proper operation in preparation for the upcoming school year.