Source: William S. Hart Union High School District
With student and staff safety being the number one priority, the William S. Hart Union High School District has announced new Heat Index guidelines for its junior high and high school outdoor activities.
If the Heat Index (a number that represents the combined effects of temperature and humidity) reaches 105, the District directive states a school site should “stop all outside activity in practice and/or play and stop all inside activity if air conditioning is unavailable.”
Because of the unique nature of micro-climates in the Santa Clarita Valley, a principal or designated administrator will make that decision at each of the 16 school sites based on these new District guidelines and using the OSHA Heat Index App. This applies to all extracurricular activities, including the band and dance teams.
“The District is providing the site administrators with tools to know when certain steps are to be taken,” said Greg Lee, director of human resources for the Hart School District. “There are several options that occur at various temperature points prior to reaching 105 on the heat index. The app reading as applied to the matrix determines action.”
Given the relationship between temperature and humidity, if there was just 10 percent humidity in Santa Clarita, the temperature could be 110 and still not reach the 105 heat index threshold. Conversely, if the relative humidity was 90 percent, a temperature of just 86 degrees would make it feel like it is 105, thereby requiring changes.
Hart District staff have been working with Foothill League leadership (high school principals, assistant principals in charge of athletics, and athletic directors) to determine this guideline. The objective was to adopt a standard system with which athletic activities could be monitored, allowing for modification, postponement or cancellation of athletic activities. The OSHA app is formally listed as the “osha-niosh-heat-safety-tool.” It is free at the App Store.
“Since our schools are located within close proximity to each other, we are not likely to have a wide range of readings from site to site, but our use of the OSHA app really does give site-specific readings,” Lee said. “We are still counting on principals and their designees to make real time, on the ground decisions about how to address extreme weather conditions, always keeping student and staff safety foremost in mind.”