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High temperatures close schools, local businesses around Quesnel

A new high temperature record of 39.9°C set on Sunday
The Quesnel Fire Department was on hand to help the students at St. Anne’s Catholic School celebrate the end of the 2021 school year on June 25. Water pistols, hoses and finally a good spray with the fire hose cooled the kids down and made for lots of laughs. Stacey Rodman, Volunteer Firefighter is the object of Gizelle McDonald, Braden Novak, Rodman and Logan Yager’s aim. (Karen Powell Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

School’s out for summer early in the Quesnel School District.

High temperatures resulted in schools not being in session Monday, June 28 and Tuesday, June 29 as Environment Canada said a dangerous long-duration heatwave would affect most of B.C. until June 30.

“The concern is that the heat is extremely high and because we don’t have any air-conditioning in most of our schools, we felt that wouldn’t be good for the health and well being of students and staff to be in a school if the temperatures were so high,” said superintendent Sue-Ellen Miller.

Dozens of records were smashed across the province.

In the Cariboo several new daily maximum records were set including in the Quesnel and Williams Lake areas.

Read More: Resellers marking up air conditioners online as B .C.’s heat wave keeps shattering records

On June 27 Quesnel set a new record of 39.9 °C breaking its previous record of 36.7°C set in 1925, while Williams Lake broke its six-year record of 30.3 °C by reaching 37.2 °C.

The extreme heat continued into June 28 with a new record of 41.1°C in Quesnel and 38.6°C in Williams Lake.

Before announcing schools would not be in session for students, Miller said the decision had been made to cancel buses that are not equipped with air-conditioning.

Teachers are anticipated to continue working until Wednesday, June 30 at home if the schools get too hot for them.

“We can’t remember a time when we had to cancel school related to extreme heat in June,” Miller said, noting this is a first in her 32 years with the school district.

“This is new for all of us.”

School District 28 was not alone in stating they are unable to ensure the well-being of students and staff due to the scorching temperatures.

Some businesses have shortened their hours or closed altogether such as the Fort Alexandria Cafe that said it would be closed as the popular spot is not equipped for the extreme heat. Other local eateries closed include Heavy D’s BBQ and the Cariboo Hotel restaurant and pub.

Farmers’ Markets and other events have also been canceled.

Miller believes the need for air-conditioning in School District 28 facilities will be a future discussion.

“Certainly that’s something we’re going to have to look at and especially as we see the effects of climate change and if temperatures continue to get warmer, but that is a significant cost,” she said.

“Usually it happens through the upgrade of an HVAC system so it will be something we’ll be talking about for sure.”

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