It was a question that triggered a conversation that touched on a lot of related topics, extending all the way out to a debate on, if given a choice, would we rather be too hot or too cold?
The question? "Is it really that hot?"
It was uttered last week. It's cooled down since then, but the inquiry was pondered aloud in response to all kinds of schools in the region and as far as the Twin Cities closing up shop for the rest of the week because of the excessive heat and humidity adding up to major unpleasantness in school buildings – or classrooms, at least, because some administrative offices are air-conditioned – that lack air conditioning.
To some, no, it really wasn't that hot. To some, the schools should have remained open. That point of view might have found some agreement in this space, too, a space that more than once has questioned the big spring slough-off in area schools because kids apparently can't learn anything in a classroom when the grass is greening up and the birds are chirping as spring arrives outside.
But the joys of spring's arrival and the warm-up it brings are different than an August heat and humidity-fest. A gorgeous 75-day degree afternoon in May simply does not compare to a 95-degree August afternoon accompanied by sultry, sweltering, sticky humidity.
Imagine trying to teach kids in a classroom where the thermometer on the wall reads more than 90 degrees. Imagine trying to learn something in that environment. Imagine being a person, teacher or student, who sweats profusely and yet you're required to spend several hours a day over several days in such an uncomfortable setting.
But this is the Red River Valley. We have four distinct seasons, each of which an behave in typical or extremely atypical fashion seemingly at the drop of a hat. We expect heat in August, but does that mean there should be a uniform rule in Minnesota and North Dakota that the school year not start until after Labor Day? Does it mean that the hot topic of discussion these days should be whether school districts should spend the money necessary to air condition all of their buildings?
No, we really don't need to be getting all fired up over those topics. A situation occurred – it was super hot and humid in late August – and some school districts dealt with it by cancelling a few days of classes, days that will be made up later in the school year.
And that's that. No broad, sweeping debates are necessary. The temperatures are more agreeable now, so let the learning begin!