Mayor Wu declares heat emergency as school year starts in Boston


As heat and humidity blanket the city, the National Weather Service has warned of heat index values as high as 97 degrees.

Boston Weather
A 9-year-old child becomes one with the spray at a Boston splash pad, one of several tools the city is using to help keep its residents cool during a two-day heat emergency this week. Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe Staff

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has declared a two-day heat emergency as temperatures soar into the 90s this week. 

The National Weather Service has a heat advisory in place until 8 p.m. on Friday, warning of heat index values as high as 97 degrees. The sweltering temperatures come as Boston Public Schools students head back to school Thursday, some of them attending classes in buildings without air conditioning. 

“The impacts of climate change are more palpable than ever, with extreme heat posing risk to our communities,” Wu said in a statement. “Although extreme heat affects Bostonians of all ages, with the new school year starting, our Boston Public Schools staff will be following protocols to ensure our kids have an enjoyable, safe first week back at school.”

BPS is encouraging students and families to prepare for the heat by staying hydrated and dressing appropriately, the city said in a news release. Most of Boston’s schools have access to air conditioning, and the city will supply water and fans to schools that need them, according to the release. 

The district is also following Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association weather guidelines, and school officials will check in with coaches and athletics staff to ensure students’ safety, the city said. 

While Boston’s schools will remain open during the heatwave, several school districts around Massachusetts have opted to either cancel classes or dismiss students early. 

Those communities include Framingham, Worcester, Springfield, Chicopee, Westfield, Reading, Melrose, Lowell, and the Quabbin Regional School District, which reported increased visits to its school health offices due to the heat.

Lowell Public Schools, which canceled classes for Thursday and Friday, noted that “the temperatures in many classrooms are expected to be too hot for teachers to teach effectively.” 

To help keep its residents cool, Boston will open cooling centers at 15 Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) community centers between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.

Boston Public Library locations are also available for those looking to beat the heat, and dozens of splash pads and city pools are open as well.  

More information on Boston’s heat emergency — and several hot weather safety tips — is available on the city’s website.