Heat, humidity turn floors slippery, force closures of W. Mass. schools

Students in two Massachusetts school districts have been able to take an early slide this week, thanks to the recent heat and high humidity, which turned their schools’ floors into skating rinks, officials said.

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Mount Greylock Regional School District, which serves students in grades 7-12 in Williamstown and Lanesborough, dismissed students early Wednesday, and called off classes today as well, according to a statement on the district website.

The 53-year-old building is not insulated, which allowed the floors to become slippery after the summer’s heavy rains and this week’s heat and humidity, said School Superintendent Rose Ellis.

Students began slipping and sliding in the halls Wednesday, which made faculty realize the severity of the issue, and they sent the students home.

The high school also called off after-school activities Wednesday but will host them today, the statement said.

“It’s an uphill battle and sometimes we’re losing the battle,” said Ellis. The school has dysfunctional heating and circulation, which has Ellis worried that mold and mildew will accompany the slippery floors.

Amherst Regional Public Schools also announced that schools in its district were closed today due to the humidity.

“Due to weather-related building issues, all Amherst-Pelham Regional, Amherst Public and Pelham Elementary schools will be closed Thursday,” said a statement on their website.

Amherst Regional officials didn’t return phone messages seeking comment. Amherst Regional High School Principal Mark Jackson told The Associated Press that 22 people fell in the building Wednesday.

The schools’ floors were waxed during the summer, and the high temperatures have caused the wax to melt, the AP reported.

Wendy Penner, a Williamstown woman whose daughter is a sophomore at Mount Greylock, was outraged about the school’s condition, she said in a telephone interview.

“It’s a sick building,” she said. “It needs more than just a Band-Aid.” Penner said that in recent history, the school has also suffered from boiler issues and the ceiling of the locker room fell in.

“As a parent, I’m just thinking, ‘What needs to happen for it to be fixed?” Penner said. She has contacted state senators and the governor’s office to complain about the school’s issues.

Ellis, aware of parents’ discontent, said she has submitted multiple requests to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, hoping the authority will help her improve the school. She wants to stop spending money that could go toward education on repairing the building.

Ellis’s short-term plan is to bring students back to school Friday. Her long-term plan is to continue to work with the school board and the authority to seek funding.