WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — More than a dozen school districts across the state either canceled classes or dismissed students early Thursday due to the sweltering heat.

The Providence Public Schools Department announced Wednesday evening that the heat forced the district to temporarily close 19 schools:

  • Asa Messer Elementary School
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School
  • George J. West Elementary School
  • Harry Kizirian Elementary School
  • Mary E. Fogarty Elementary School
  • Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School
  • Vartan Gregorian Elementary School
  • Veazie Street Elementary School
  • Webster Avenue Elementary School
  • Esek Hopkins Middle School
  • Gilbert Stuart Middle School
  • Nathan Bishop Middle School
  • Nathanael Greene Middle School
  • Roger Williams Middle School
  • West Broadway Middle School
  • A-Venture Academy
  • Classical High School
  • Hope High School
  • Mount Pleasant High School

Both the Frank D. Spaziano Elementary School and William D’Abate Elementary School are closed for the remainder of the week since their first day of class isn’t until Sept. 11.

The schools that aren’t listed remained open, though the capital city canceled outdoor recess and afterschool activities districtwide.

“We understand the challenges that extreme heat conditions can bring and we appreciate families’ cooperation and understanding,” the district said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of our students and staff are of the utmost importance, and we will continue to monitor the weather.”

Providence wasn’t the only district to close schools Thursday due to the lingering heat. Pawtucket also decided to cancel classes districtwide.

Other districts opted to dismiss their students early instead, including Cranston, Pawtucket, Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick, Johnston, Woonsocket, Central Falls, East Providence, Cumberland, Burrillville and Scituate.

The vast majority of districts also canceled outdoor recess and after-school activities.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green explained that, while the state is monitoring the extreme heat closely, it is up to each superintendent to make the call that best suits their district’s needs.

“Everybody is on it,” Infante-Green said. “We are in constant contact with the superintendents, making sure that our priority is the kids and the teachers and everybody in the building is feeling well and they are not experiencing more of the heat than they should be.”

Infante-Green said districts that decided to dismiss early won’t need to make up the day at the end of the school year, so long as classes were held for at least three hours.

The Rhode Island Department of Health issued a series of guidelines to districts statewide regarding student safety during hot weather:

  • When outdoors, stay in the shade whenever possible. Limit time outdoors when temperatures and UV radiation are most intense, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Ensure children are well hydrated. Provide or encourage frequent drinks to ensure adequate hydration. Plain water is the liquid of choice.
  • Monitor children in wheelchairs and check the temperature of metal and vinyl parts.
  • Check the temperature of metal and plastic playground equipment.
  • Staff should be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat
  • stroke. Follow first aid procedures promptly.
  • Limit strenuous activity outdoors. Check regularly on young children and those children who are physically challenged or in wheelchairs and those who have chronic illnesses such as asthma.