Hart schools modify practice as temperatures continue to rise


West Ranch High girls volleyball expected to trek up Interstate 5 to Bakersfield for a match against Stockdale High today.

Mother Nature and the Kern High School District had other ideas.

Kern canceled or postponed all district events today, both inside and outside, because of extreme heat, according to The Bakersfield Californian.

While the William S. Hart Union High School District hasn’t taken such a sweeping approach to the heat wave sweeping across parts of California, the district’s schools are monitoring the weather and adjusting accordingly.

“The district could make a unilateral decision about that,” said Greg Lee, the Hart district’s director of human resources, “but (our) principals are best situated to make that call.”

In a news release Monday, the Los Angeles County health officer extended a heat alert for the Santa Clarita Valley through Friday.

Highs in the SCV are forecast to range from 106 to 110 degrees between now and the end of the work week, according to The Weather Channel.

Monday, Canyon High Athletic Director Scott Arnold said the Cowboys shifted cross country practice to Sierra Vista Junior High to benefit from an ostensibly cooler dirt track.

Similarly, Canyon is moving football practice off of turf and onto grass, building in more time for water breaks and pushing practice to later in the day when possible, Arnold said.

The school’s coaches are paying increased attention to signs of heat exhaustion, Arnold added.

Valencia Athletic Director Brian Stiman said that practices at his school would begin as late in the day as possible to beat the heat.

Hart cross country practices moved to the evening, Athletic Director Linda Peckham said Monday, while most of the school’s out-of-season sports canceled practice Monday and Tuesday.

Several district events set for this week were cancelled or postponed, including, but not limited to, a trio of Golden Valley girls golf meets and one girls tennis match, a Saugus girls tennis match, a West Ranch girls tennis match and a Valencia cross country meet.

There was no indication that any of Friday’s football games would be impacted.

But Santa Clarita Christian’s football team didn’t hold a normal practice Monday, opting instead for a walk-through and team meeting at the school.

As for Trinity Classical Academy, it picked the perfect time to travel to Hume Lake (where the high will hover around 90 this week) for a previously-scheduled school retreat.

“When temperatures are as high as they will be in the next few days, even a few hours of exertion may cause severe dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, interim health officer for Los Angeles County, in a statement.

Gunzenhauser’s news release provided tips for those exercising outdoors:

  • Ensure that cool drinking water is available.
  • Drink water or electrolyte-replacing sports drinks often; do not wait until you are thirsty.
  • Avoid drinking sweetened drinks, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Avoid drinking extremely cold water as this is more likely to cause cramps.
  • Allow athletes or outdoor workers to take frequent rests.
  • Pay attention to signs of dehydration which include dizziness, fatigue, faintness, headaches, muscle cramps and increased thirst. Individuals with these symptoms should be moved to a cooler, shaded place, and be given water or sport drinks. More severe signs of heat-related illness may include diminished judgment, disorientation, pale and clammy skin, a rapid and weak pulse, and/or fast and shallow breathing.
  • Coaches and teachers should seek immediate medical attention for those exhibiting signs of heat-related illness.
  • Avoid unnecessary exertion, such as vigorous exercise during peak sun hours, if you are outside or in a non-air conditioned building.

The final tip speaks specifically to volleyball players in the Santa Clarita Valley. Hart district gyms aren’t equipped with air conditioning, but do feature large floor fans, according to Hart spokesman Dave Caldwell.

The Kern district’s gyms have swamp coolers instead of air conditioners, according to The Bakersfield Californian, which also reported that Kern’s event ban does allow for early morning practices.

Several football coaches told the Californian that they planned to begin practice between 5 and 6 a.m.

The CIF, for its part, tweeted out resources for dealing with the heat. It suggested water breaks should be given at least every 30 to 45 minutes. Athletes, the CIF said, should be instructed to continue hydrating in between practice sessions and that athletes should arrive at practice well-hydrated.

The CIF also suggested that athletes wear light colored clothing, avoid drinks containing stimulants such as ephedrine (found in certain medicines) or high doses of caffeine.

The CIF stated that athletes with febrile or gastrointestinal illnesses should not be allowed to participate until recovered.

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