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18 July, 2024
 
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Heatwave forces classes outdoors due to lack of air conditioning

Teachers and students endure extreme temperatures as officials scramble to install cooling systems

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As Cyprus endures a sweltering heatwave with temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius, public school teachers have been forced to hold classes outdoors due to the lack of air conditioning. The extreme heat has rendered classrooms unbearable, prompting educators to seek any available shade.

Photos shared by Charis Charalambous and Rena Choplarou highlight the desperate measures teachers are taking. "Today, with a temperature of 44 degrees, we couldn't breathe in the classroom, which was built 50 years ago with an east-facing orientation and windows that raise the temperature by 4-5 degrees, making it a regular greenhouse," Hoplarou said. "I took the kids outside to the west porch, but the situation was still unbearable. They were literally melting and dripping."

"With a per capita GDP of 33,400 euros in Cyprus, we are not exactly poor. The climate is changing; we are mildly unacceptable." -Rena Choplarou

Choplarou stressed the urgent need for investment in school infrastructure. "Schools need to be insulated, put in awnings, and equipped with air conditioners. With a per capita GDP of 33,400 euros in Cyprus, we are not exactly poor. The climate is changing; this is unacceptable."

Plans for air conditioning installation

Minister of Education, Athina Michaelidou, acknowledged the dire situation and announced that air conditioners would be installed in 50 schools in the coming days. A three-year plan is being drawn up to equip all feasible schools with air conditioning. Despite calls from educational organizations for children to stay home during the heatwave, the possibility was rejected after consultations with parents.

Health risks for children

Moreover, Dr. Abraham Ilias, Director of the Pediatric Department at Makarios Hospital, highlighted the significant health risks posed by the lack of air conditioning during such extreme heat.

"The consequences of not using air conditioners are that children can become dehydrated, feel discomfort, indisposition, headache, abdominal pain, and possibly feverish. These are signs of heatstroke, seen during heatwave conditions like those in Cyprus now," Dr. Ilias explained.

He noted that several children are already showing these symptoms, which can severely impact their concentration and performance in school. "Heat stroke is caused when there is prolonged exposure to high temperatures," he added.

Preventive measures and emergency response

Dr. Ilias outlined preventive measures, including drinking plenty of fluids, eating fruits and salads, limiting sugar and alcohol intake, avoiding sun exposure, and wearing light-colored, comfortable clothing and hats.

In suspected cases of heatstroke, immediate actions include taking the patient to a cool place, removing clothing, applying cold pads, providing fluids, and seeking hospital care. "Children are vulnerable to heat stroke because they have a large body surface area compared to their body weight and therefore easily dehydrated," Dr. Ilias stressed.

Parents are advised to ensure children avoid prolonged sun exposure, stay hydrated, and eat a balanced diet to prevent heat-related illnesses. If symptoms of heatstroke appear, they should seek medical attention promptly.

[Information sourced from CNA]

TAGS
Cyprus  |  heatwave  |  weather  |  education  |  health

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