Des Moines Public Schools, Johnston fired early due to heat

Des Moines Public Schools will suspend classes for three hours early Thursday because temperatures are expected to rise for the third straight day.

The Midwest is in the midst of an intense heat wave as a ridge of high pressure lies over Iowa, the central part of the country, and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is making conditions appear unseasonably wet.

Des Moines set a record high temperature on Aug. 23 of 100 degrees, 17 degrees above average. In Iowa and surrounding areas, temperatures rose about 20 degrees above average on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The temperature in Des Moines reached 96 degrees on Tuesday. The high temperature in Des Moines on Thursday is expected to reach 99 degrees and the heat index is expected to reach 105 degrees.

DMPS Elementary Schools will be dismissed at 11:40 a.m. Middle and high schools will be dismissed at 12:25 p.m. and breakfast and lunch will be served, according to a news release.

All classrooms at DMPS are air-conditioned, but most DMPS buses are not air-conditioned.

“Although we had a great first day of school, I do not want the heat and high humidity to jeopardize the health and well-being of any student or staff,” said DMPS Superintendent Dr. Ian Roberts. “The early departure will help people, especially our bus drivers, not have to be outside during the highest temperatures expected for the day.”

High school outdoor practices will be held between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. or after 7:30 p.m. All outdoor sports competitions will be postponed until Thursday. After-school child care at Metro Kids will not be available after early dismissal.

Johnston schools closed early Wednesday and will do the same Thursday amid a near-record heat wave in Iowa.

The Johnston Community School District posted on its website Wednesday — the first day of school — that its schools would be dismissed early due to “excessive heat and geothermal cooling that is not keeping pace with some buildings.”

Two rooms at Summit Middle School and possibly some rooms at Johnston Middle School were not cooled adequately, said Johnston Schools spokeswoman Lynn Meadows.

Meadows said all schools in the district were released early for equity purposes.

more: Des Moines metro schools face the heat as they open for the year Wednesday

The district said high schools in the area will close at 11:50 a.m. and elementary schools at 1 p.m. School buses will return students home at that time, and Kids Connection child care will remain open until 5 p.m

Wednesday’s forecast temperature of 99 degrees in Des Moines is expected to tie the record set in 1975. An excessive heat warning is expected to go up Thursday evening.

A number of Iowa schools, including Des Moines, announced that outdoor activities will be restricted this week. Some schools across the state have pushed back their start date until Monday, and others plan to dismiss students as early as Wednesday, according to Iowa Education Association officials.

Philip Setter covers suburban growth and development for the Des Moines Register. Philip can be reached via email at He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.

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