UK heatwave: Schools tell parents to collect children at 1pm or stay at home due to hot weather

Health officials today insisted there is ‘no reason’ for schools to close during next week’s heatwave after a wave of headteachers told parents to collect their children at 1pm. 

Head teachers pushed the panic button this lunchtime after the Met Office warned a new UK record temperature could be set early next week.

Stunned mothers and fathers at some schools were told to pick up their children at 1pm on Monday and Tuesday, or that the days would be entirely stay at home occasions.

But today a health official blasted the proposal, saying there was ‘no public health reason’ for schools to close and many air-conditioned classrooms might actually be cooler than people’s homes.  

Head teachers pushed the panic button this lunchtime after the Met Office warned a new UK record temperature could be set early next week. Pic: Oakfield Academy Frome

Head teachers pushed the panic button this lunchtime after the Met Office warned a new UK record temperature could be set early next week. Pic: Oakfield Academy Frome

Haute Vallée, a secondary school on Jersey, announced in was closing on July 18 and 19

Haute Vallée, a secondary school on Jersey, announced in was closing on July 18 and 19 

The Hereford Academy announced an earlier start and finish to the school day, while parents at Marlbrook, Little Dewchurch and St Martin’s primary schools were told PE lessons will be scrapped and pupils will not be allowed outside to play. 

A letter added: ‘We are also giving parents the option to keep children at home on Monday.’

Meanwhile Crestwood Community School in Eastleigh, Hampshire, is among the schools to cancel sports day, saying that ‘we do not feel that it is safe for students to be out in the heat all day, taking part in physical activity.’

In East London, the headteacher of Clapton Girls’ Academy warned of an early finish amid fears school facilities will be unable to cope with the heat. 

Anna Feltham told parents: ‘Already, many classrooms are very hot, even with fans, and students are struggling to keep cool, drink enough water and maintain concentration in lessons.

‘Next week’s heatwave will make many teaching rooms unbearably hot by lesson two and five. We have reviewed a number of options but do not have sufficient ‘cool’ rooms to re-room lessons into.’

And Red Hall Primary School in Darlington has banned children from playing outside in the scorching heat unless they wear a hat, saying it was a ‘real concern’ that many pupils were attending school without one this week.

Health chiefs fear the NHS will be overwhelmed by a number of heat-related casualties if the mercury does indeed rise to levels only usually seen at Death Valley in California, which is the world’s hottest place.

It came as the Met Office warned that people’s lives could be at risk as it indicated it is likely that a new UK record temperature could be set early next week.

Meteorologists gave an 80% chance of the mercury topping the UK’s record temperature of 38.7C (101.7F) set in Cambridge in 2019, with the current heatwave set to peak on Tuesday.

There is a 50% chance of temperatures reaching 40C somewhere in the UK, likely along the A1 corridor, with the Met Office issuing its first ever red warning for extreme heat.

The UK Health Security Agency has increased its heat health warning from level three to level four – a ‘national emergency’.

TUESDAY: The Met Office expects temperatures to hit 40C (104F) in London next Tuesday, which would be unprecedented

TUESDAY: The Met Office expects temperatures to hit 40C (104F) in London next Tuesday, which would be unprecedented

Level four is reached ‘when a heatwave is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system… At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups,’ it said.

The Met Office red warning, for Monday and Tuesday, covers an area from London up to Manchester, and up to the Vale of York.

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: ‘If people have vulnerable relatives or neighbours, now is the time to make sure they’re putting suitable measures in place to be able to cope with the heat because if the forecast is as we think it will be in the red warning area, then people’s lives are at risk.

‘This is a very serious situation.’

He said there is an 80% chance of the all-time UK temperature record being broken, and a 50% chance of temperatures of 40C being reached somewhere in the UK.

‘Most likely that would be within the red warning area for extreme heat,’ said Mr Madge.

‘Probably the most likely areas to look at would be north of London and up to Lincolnshire, inland.

‘Somewhere like Peterborough, Grantham, Sandy, Stevenage, those sorts of areas, A1 corridor.’

He said that temperatures reaching 40C would be a ‘historic event’.

‘If we get to 40C that’s a very iconic threshold and shows that climate change is with us now,’ he said.

‘This is made much more likely because of climate change.’

NEXT WEEK: The Met Office has issued this forecast map to accompany the extreme heat warning next Monday and Tuesday

NEXT WEEK: The Met Office has issued this forecast map to accompany the extreme heat warning next Monday and Tuesday

Downing Street said that Cobra met on Thursday amid the heatwave, and discussions with sectors including the NHS will ‘continue to work closely with all of those sectors over today, through the weekend and into early next week’.

Meanwhile, motorists have been advised to try to make their journeys outside of the hottest periods of the day, particularly if they have older cars.

Sean Sidley, AA patrol of the year, said: ‘There are reports of road gritters being out this weekend to reduce the chances of our roads melting.

‘If it does get sticky on the roads there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a jam with the mercury rising, so make sure you carry plenty of water – at least a litre per person – and sufficient fuel, or if you’re driving an electric vehicle (EV) – make sure you have plenty of charge so you can use the air-conditioning when needed.’

Tim Doran, from the RNLI Water Safety Team said the service was anticipating a ‘busy weekend’ for its lifeboat crews and lifeguards.

‘If you are planning on going to the beach, we would encourage you to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags,’ he said.

North Wales Police said a paddleboarder died after getting into difficulty in the water off Conwy Morfa beach on Thursday evening.

Officers were called at 10.14pm and attended alongside the coastguard, RNLI and ambulance service, with two casualties taken to hospital in Bangor, where one of them died.

The force said the local coroner has been informed, and specialist officers will be supporting the family of the deceased.

Today an official said there was 'no public health reason' for schools to close and many air-conditioned classrooms might actually be cooler than people's homes

Today an official said there was ‘no public health reason’ for schools to close and many air-conditioned classrooms might actually be cooler than people’s homes

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