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Extreme heat forces school closings and early dismissals

More than 50 million people are under heat alerts from Texas and Oklahoma north to Minnesota and Michigan and in mid-Atlantic states, such as Virginia and Maryland, through the Northeast.
A person rides their bike in San Antonio during a heat wave
A bike rider ignored the heat last month in San Antonio.Eric Gay / AP file

Extreme heat is causing a rash of school closings and early dismissals this week across the Midwest and northeastern United States, as a late-season heat wave could push temperatures into record-setting territory over the next several days.

More than 50 million people are under heat alerts from Texas and Oklahoma north to Minnesota and Michigan, and in Mid-Atlantic states such as Virginia and Maryland through the Northeast. Forecasts in some areas show temperatures soaring 15 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

Several school districts in New Jersey announced half-day schedules this week, reported, while in neighboring Pennsylvania, several districts are planning to close early or cancel in-person classes, according to Penn Live.

In Michigan on Tuesday, public schools in Detroit and Pontiac are dismissing students early and some public schools in Southfield are closing altogether, reported the Detroit Free Press. Similar disruptions are occurring in schools in parts of Ohio and Maryland.

This latest heat wave comes at the tail end of what has been a sweltering summer for huge swaths of the U.S., including across most of the southern half of the country and parts of the Midwest.

Concerns have been mounting among educators and teachers unions about the impact of extreme heat on students’ health and their ability to learn.

High temperatures on Tuesday ranged from 97 F in Kansas City and 93 F in Minneapolis to 91 F in Chicago and 92 F in St. Louis. Farther south, temperatures soared to 102 F in Dallas, 100 F in Raleigh and 90 F in New Orleans. Cities across the Northeast are similarly sizzling, with highs on Tuesday of 91 F in New York City, 94 F in Philadelphia and 99 F in Washington, D.C.

The Mount Holly, New Jersey, branch of the National Weather Service urged people to stay hydrated, limit strenuous outdoor activities and take other precautions this week as temperatures spike.

“Simply put, the next several days will be dangerously hot,” the weather service wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

This week’s heat wave comes after what was a stifling long weekend for parts of the country. Nearly 30 heat records were set across the country on Labor Day, and forecasters said dozens more could fall in the coming days.

Studies have shown that heat waves are becoming longer and more frequent and intense as a result of climate change.

Relief for the Midwest and Northeast is expected to come by the end of the week, but extreme heat is projected to linger across the South and the Southern Plains through the weekend.