No Air Conditioning Has a Mental Health Impact on Students

No air conditioning goes well beyond the issue of comfort. Of course, it can be a matter of life and death for vulnerable sick populations. But it also can create roadblocks for the average worker just trying to get through the day doing their job. Take, for instance, the recent crisis in Boston Public Schools. 

Students and teachers came back from the summer to buildings that were largely not air-conditioned. That wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact the AC had gone out in May and the city had a whole summer to make repairs. For many, that did not occur. And it prompted one teacher to take action. 

No Air Conditioning a Non-Starter

Michael Maguire, a Latin teacher for the Boston Latin Academy in Dorchester, recently appeared on the All Things Considered podcast for NPR. He drew attention by boldly issuing a challenge to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh: shut down the AC units for administrative offices until the school crisis is fixed. 

When asked by ATC’s Barbara Howard if he’d heard anything in response to his tweet, Maguire said, “Of course not.” He then gave this description of what the first day back to school was like in sweltering conditions (91.6 degrees, according to the digital thermometer he’s been using in his classroom to track the heat). 

In response to Howard’s questioning if students were able to function: “A little bit. They could follow basic directions, they could get along, but there wasn’t much in the way of teaching and learning. It was more just surviving the heat and getting to know each other.” 

What No AC ‘Teaches’ Us

Maguire’s description is a pretty common one for anyone forced to deal with no access to air conditioning. Not only do the effects take a physical form, putting you in danger of things like heat exhaustion and dehydration, but it also affects one’s ability to work and deal with mental stressors. 

It can affect sleep duration and quality, which, in turn, leads to an inability to focus. The aforementioned dehydration also exacerbates the decline in cognitive function. The resulting frustration can lead to it taking longer to accomplish basic tasks, as well as heightening the desire to engage in risky behaviors or rash judgment calls. 

In the case of the Boston students, it’s a problem made even worse by the fact the brain is still not fully formed. It continues to develop until around the age of 25. But regardless of where you are in your mental development, overexposure to heat can result in all of these symptoms. 

Don’t Lose a Day

When you have no air conditioning, you end up losing productivity and making bad decisions. This results in one lost day after another, and that’s something few of us can afford. Are you suffering from an AC outage? Give us a call or reach out online today. We’ll get you back up and running. 

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