Morris Hills Fever

Fall and spring are two times of the year that students look forward to, as they mark the start and end of the school year. Even though these times are exciting, summer is either ending or beginning, and summer heat spreads through the school. According to, an ordinary day in September has an average high of 83°F and can reach up to 96°F. With the school population rising, crowded, stuffy hallways make for even more hot and humid conditions. Some classrooms provide a relief from the heat with air conditioning, but a majority, unfortunately, do not. The heat is sometimes unbearable, especially in the school gymnasium and the cafeteria.

Mr. Merle, a vice-principal at Morris Hills, believes that “somewhere around 70 degrees or around that range would be a comfortable classroom temperature.” According to Mr. Merle, about half of Morris Hills is air conditioned. “The whole new wing is air conditioned. Also, some of the rooms that were directly affected by the construction have air conditioning in them, like rooms 147 and 149. Approximately 50% of the school is air conditioned.” When asked if there was ever a plan to install air conditioning throughout the school, he responded, “Initially the plan was to put air conditioning in the cafeteria; if you look up, you can still see the ducting.” The auditorium and gymnasium were also a part of this plan. “All of that had to be cut because an asbestos abatement ran way over costs,” Mr. Merle said. Currently, the only rooms that have air conditioning from the old building are those with computers in them. “It is a pretty big cost that the district would have to undertake. Remember, when you do something at one school you have to do it at both. So, with the way our district is, the cost of everything is doubled, at least. Knolls is a little bit larger, so sometimes it is even a little bit more than doubled,” Mr. Merle explained. Although these complications exist, Mr. Merle believes that he can see air conditioning in the auditorium and gymnasium “being done probably in the next four or five years if the money holds.”

Recent studies show that the temperatures in classrooms and learning facilities absolutely do affect a student’s ability to learn. Dunn and Dunn from stated that when temperatures are either too cold or too hot, the brain continually informs the body to do something about this status. Due to this consistent interruption, it is very difficult for a person to concentrate. In addition, a study done at Loyola University by an undergrad found that air temperature has an impact on the brain’s capability to memorize information. Students in this study performed better on tests when in a room with a temperature of 72°F compared to 64°F or 80°F. Although there are many contributing factors to the outcomes of the results, these statistics show that rooms with comfortable temperatures lead to success in a learning environment.

The State of New Jersey has heat regulations regarding its nursing homes.  New Jersey Administrative Codes states that, “All areas of the facility used by residents shall be equipped with air conditioning and the air conditioning shall be operated so that the temperature in these areas does not exceed 82 degrees Fahrenheit.” This regulation has been enforced so that the elderly have an environment in which they can feel safe and comfortable. There are no state regulations for public school systems. Why are nursing homes in New Jersey required to have air conditioning, but not a place of education for young scholars?

Will the Morris Hills School District take on the idea of installing air conditioning in the bulk of both high schools? It is undoubtedly on the mind of the administration, but the budget is not ready for such a drastic change yet. Morris Hills hopes to air condition major parts of both the schools, such as the auditorium and the gymnasium. Doing so would not only follow state regulations that other facilities follow, but may also even improve the learning environment for students. Hopefully within the next five years, Morris Hills will be a heat-friendly environment for its faculty and students.