Climate change – air conditioning in schools

Spanish schoolchildren

Spanish schoolchildren. Flikr, CC by NC-ND 2.0

Heat waves are becoming increasingly common in the Balearic Islands, particularly affecting the first and last two months of the school year (May, June, September and October).

Regulations require that workplace temperatures remain within a range of 17 and 27 degrees, although many schools are unable to comply with this.

Thermal insulation

While a study launched in March by the UIB university stresses the importance of thermal insulation and other measures, the Education Ministry is contemplating investing more in air conditioning devices.

Minister for education Antoni Vera has said that there are sufficient funds to finance the plan through the European Union Next Generation.

The aim is to start actions at schools based on the results of the study and to prioritise those that take in younger children.

Adapting to a changing climate

It goes hand in hand with a climate adaptation plan being prepared for schools to improve insulation and comfort long-term.

“From the Ministry we are perfectly aware of the problems of air conditioning and that the forecasts are not favourable,” admits the regional secretary of Educational Development, Mateo Suñer.

For the moment, 800 or 900 air conditioners are to be distributed among schools. “We know it’s not the solution, but in the short term we have to mitigate the situation as much as we can,” he adds.

Climate forecasts

The forecasts are not promising, considering temperatures in Mallorca already exceeded 30 degrees Celsius for the first time on April 6, with record temperatures for the time of year of up to 32.7 degrees in Pollença and 32.6 in Muro and Sa Pobla.

Coping with heat

Last year a pilot study was launched in eight schools to address the problem, and a protocol is in place for dealing with high temperatures.

This triggers organisational measures in schools when temperatures reach 32 degrees in Ibiza and Menorca and 33 in Mallorca. These range from promoting natural ventilation and hydration for students and teachers to making the timetable more flexible, avoiding physical activities in the middle of the day and eating light meals.

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Annie christmas in the Bay of Palma
Written by

Annette Christmas

Annie Christmas loves language and communication. A long-time resident of Mallorca, she enjoys an outdoor life of cycling, horse riding and mountain walking, as well as the wealth of concerts and cultural events on the island. She also plays fiddle in a traditional Mallorcan dance troupe.