DENVER - Extreme heat has forced Denver Public schools to close or release students early at some locations Friday.
As if Scott Mengel did not have enough to worry about in the Grand Opening of the Downtown Denver Expeditionary Learning School this week, Mother Nature had to throw him a curve ball.
"Everything expect the weather has been terrific," Mengel, executive director, said. "We really sort of sweated through the first three days of school - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday."
So, Mengel decided to make Thursday optional for students and cancel classes altogether on Friday.
"In a lot of our classrooms by the afternoon, it's 92 degrees," Mengel said.
The Downtown Expeditionary Learning School is temporarily housed at the old Smedley Elementary building at 42nd Ave. & Shoshone St. The building was constructed in 1911 and is very difficult to keep cool, according to teachers like Pete Martinez.
"It's hard for students and for teachers to kind of maintain that engagement and that focus all day when it's conditions, 80-plus degrees in the classroom," Martinez said.
Martinez brought in several fans from home to work with an evaporative cooler that's on loan from the district. He keeps his lights turned off and tries to get air flowing from through the windows and doors. Still, the temperature in his classroom is 83 degrees and rising.
"The beads of sweat building up on their nose. It's hot," Martinez said.
Alex Rost is a kindergarten student who is being picked up by his mother to go home for the day. Alex describes his day very simply.
"Sweating," Alex said. "Cause, I don't have any air conditioning."
His mother, Christa, applauds the decision made by school leaders.
"I think it was smart," Christa Rost said. "It's just too warm."
Alex says he is glad to go home.
"Because I have to go get a drink of water every second," Alex said.
Some other Colorado students are getting a longer holiday weekend because of the continued hot weather.
The Poudre School District in Fort Collins has cancelled Friday classes at all 50 of its schools because of the unusually high temperatures.
At Irish Elementary, principal Lindsey Walton knows Friday's temperatures are expected to be even higher than Thursday's. The school has no air conditioning.
"This one says it's about 86 in here," Walton said, holding up a thermometer inside one of the school's classrooms. "This one is actually saying it's closer to 96."
Many of the schools in the district have no or partial air conditioning.
"It's really designed to give some temporary relief to our teachers and our students who have been dealing with this heat now for two weeks," superintendent Sandra Smyser said. "We are getting a lot of thank-you emails."
After school activities will go on as regularly scheduled Friday.
Schools on early release for Friday, August 30:
-Creativity Challenge Community - early release at 12:15
-Denver Language School - closed all day Friday
-Downtown Denver Expeditionary School - closed all day Friday
-Garden Place Academy - 11:30
-West Career Academy - early release at noon
-West Generation Academy - early release at noon
-West High School - early release at noon
-West Leadership Academy - early release at noon
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)