AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the hottest summer on record slowly approaches its end, marching bands and football teams across Central Texas are revving up for a sweltering school year. With the heat expected to continue for awhile, local school districts are making plans for students who need to practice outdoors.
“When things were getting progressively hotter, we adjusted our schedule, so that we started earlier in the day,” said Chris Thomsen, director of bands at Manor New Tech High School.
He said they’ve needed to make numerous changes to ensure kids stay safe during practice. “We tell the kids that they need to know their own bodies well enough to know when to sit down and whatnot.”
Austin ISD puts heat guidelines in place
Some school districts have plans for when the heat is too intense. Austin ISD’s heat guidelines apply not only to marching bands, but outdoor practice for sports, physical education and recess.
Under the guidelines, when the temperature reaches 100 degrees or the heat index hits 110:
- Outdoor practices can’t exceed two hours
- Five-minute water breaks are required every 30 minutes
- P.E. and recess are limited to one hour and must take a five-minute water break after 30 minutes
When temperatures reach 105 degrees or the heat index tops out at 115 degrees:
- Practices are reduced to an hour and a half
- Water breaks must now occur every 20 minutes
- P.E. and recess are capped at 45 minutes with a water break every 15 minutes
If the temperature exceeds 105 or the heat index exceeds 115, all outdoor activities are canceled.
Football season kicks off as heat continues
As the school year continues, and games kick off, Thomsen said one of the biggest issues facing marching bands is their uniforms. The heavy wool uniforms were not designed with Texas in mind.
The students want to wear them, the teachers do not. They made a compromise.
“We’ll wear the jackets into the stadium, take them off in the stands, and then when we go out to do the show, put them on, and then take them off again just so they’re staying as cool as possible.”