Heat wave next week will send school to neighborhood synagogues

Sophomores will be at Bnai David while freshmen head to YICC.

By Eric Bazak, Features Editor

Some schools have snow days, but starting Monday, Shalhevet will have a “Heat Wave Week.”

Head of School Rabbi Segal announced Thursday afternoon that because there is no air-conditioning in the nine upstairs classrooms of the Westside JCC, school will be temporarily split into three locations during a severe heat wave forecast for next week.

Upperclassmen will remain at the JCC in parts of the building where there is air conditioning. The underclassmen will be having classes at local synagogues: B’nai David-Judea for the 10th graders and Young Israel of Century City for the 9th graders.

B’nai David is not available on Wednesday, so on that day sophomores will not have classes and will go on a field trip instead.  The field trip had not yet been planned as of Thursday, however.

Every day’s schedule will be different.  School will end at 3:55 Monday through Wednesday and 3:30 on Thursday, instead of 4:20; and 1:50 instead of 2 pm on Friday.  Classes will be shortened by 10 minutes each, except for on Thursday, when classes will be able to meet for a full time because Advisory is being cancelled.

Town Hall on Tuesday will split between the different locations.

Since some teachers teach both upper and lower grades, vans and Uber taxis are being arranged to transport teachers from the JCC to the shuls and back, according to General Studies Principal Mr. Roy Danovitch.

To give teachers more time in between periods to switch locations, classes will be shortened by 10 minutes, and there will be 25 minutes in between every class.

On Thursday, weather forecasters said temperatures would reach as high as 100 degrees on the hottest days, Monday and Tuesday, though by Friday morning the forecast had moderated somewhat to the mid-90s, according to weather.com.

“Each teacher will be able to teach in an air conditioned room during this time,” Rabbi Segal stated in his e-mail.

The situations of upperclassmen who share classes with underclassmen would be handled “on a case-by-case basis,” Rabbi Segal said.

This system will remain at least as long as the heat wave lasts and possibly until Tuesday, September 23, the day before Rosh Hashanah, Mr. Danovitch said.  Long-range forecasts show Los Angeles cooling off right around the holiday.

Every day next week will have a high of at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit, according to various news sources, with humidity reaching over 40 percent on some days. Monday and Tuesday are forecast to be the hottest, and 99 and 98 degrees respectively, according to weather.com.

The heat wave move is the latest complication in a year that was already very unusual. Shalhevet has rented space in the Westside Jewish Community Center this year while its new building is under construction at its old lot on Fairfax Avenue, three blocks west.

Even without the heat wave, students and teachers have complained of the heat on the third floor. On Sept. 11 at 4:30 pm, the temperature in the hallway on the third floor was 87.3 degrees, according to The Boiling Point’s thermometer.  Open windows and large fans in the hallways and some rooms have kept the air moving but added street noise and hte noise of the motors.

Without air-conditioning, the administration did not think it was safe or productive to have classes  at the JCC, as Rabbi Segal said in an email earlier this week.  He said in that email that installing air conditioning in the JCC would have cost “tens of thousands of dollars.”

In an interview later in the day, Rabbi Segal would not say how much the temporary relocations would cost.  But he did say that the cost of relocating the underclassmen even a few times during the year is not close to the cost of installing air conditioning.

Meanwhile, the school is also trying to figure out a way for students to have wifi in the synagogues  for their iPads. The devices are required for freshmen and sophomores and used extensively in most classes.

Rabbi Segal wasn’t worried.

“I’ve heard that there was amazing education for thousands of years without an iPad,” he said.

Rabbi Segal told The Boiling Point that they will consider splitting the school again if another heat wave of this magnitude occurs.

“It will depend on how the current solution works,” Rabbi Segal said.  “If it is very smooth and the students, parents, teachers and synagogues feel good about how it went, then it would seem obvious to me that we might do it again in case of another heat wave.

“If it doesn’t work well, then we will go back to the drawing board and come up with other ideas.”

Meanwhile,  the Boiling Point conducted an online poll earlier in the week asking what the administration should do about the heat wave. More than 80 people responded – more than half the school – and Rabbi Segal said the results allowed him to confirm his ultimate decision.

“I did look at it and was able to say, ‘Okay there is a good amount of people who were O.K with that,'” he said.  “If I saw that everyone felt that it wasn’t such a good idea, I might have reconsidered.”

The Boiling Point poll offered four options. The most popular, with 48 percent of the vote, was to have virtual school where teachers gave video lessons and followed up with quizes on Schoology.

About a third of the responders said administration should find air-conditioned locations to hold regular classes. Sixteen percent thought that the administration did not need to do anything, and that students can toughen up.

Only three percent said school should cancel classes altogether.

“I agree with all of the answers,” Mr. Weismann said.  “I think we are always interested in student decisions. I dont think we are going to make a decision based on student polls, but feedback is very  important. ”

Junior Shirel Benji liked the decision, saying that it was necessary in order for students to learn.

“I think it’s a good idea,” she said. “It will be annoying to have to move everything, but it might be beneficial under the extreme, hot circumstances.”

Freshmen Rose Wolkind saw pluses and minuses.

“I think that it is the most realistic option,” said Rose.  “But it will definitely take away from the environment that everyone loves at Shalhevet.”

Fellow freshman Jacob Perelman thought it was a smart idea.

“I agree with the decision because now it will be easier to concentrate,” said Jacob.

Hebrew Teacher Michal Davis said that although the system would make things difficult for the teachers, it was a good temporary solution to accommodate the heat.

“If it is just a temporary solution for a week or two, then we will have to go with it to make it easier for students,” she said. “But it may be difficult for the teachers to go from place to place.”

In spite of the hassle, Rabbi Segal still believes that the JCC was the best option for a temporary building this year.  He does not regret the decision to relocate.

“You can’t really have regrets when you didn’t really have another choice,” he said an e-mail to the Boiling Point.

“We looked at other facilities and some had air conditioning but did not have anywhere close to the spaces that we needed or were in geographically undesirable areas,” Rabbi Segal said in an interview.

“This was the best of some less than ideal options.  I view this as the hand we have been dealt and it is our job to play it as best we can. This is what we have and we are doing our absolute best.”

CIJE has been cancelled.  Music and Drama will remain at the JCC, meaning that the school must find a way to transfer underclassmen from the synagogues back to the JCC by 4:30. According to Mr. Weismann, the school was still figuring out a solution as of Thursday night.

Music teacher Mrs. Joelle Keene cancelled Monday’s rehearsal because of Back to School Night, which would have cut the rehearsal short after it was already likely to start late.  She said the Choirhawks would meet as scheduled Wednesday in Berch A, however.

According to art teacher Mrs. Roen Salem, 10th grade Art classes for the 10th grade will be held at Bnai David-Judea, but without sketchbooks, since it is too complicated to transport them.

There was no announcement on what would happen to outdoor sports practices.

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