From western South Dakota to southern Minnesota, extreme heat forced thousands of KELOLAND students to leave school early Wednesday.
Some districts have already cut Thursday’s day short. That includes the Northwestern School District. It’s been dismissing school at 2 p.m. all week.
Only a few rooms in the Kindergarten through grade 12 building have air conditioning.
Just a couple of hours after school started Wednesday, you could already find sweating kids at the Mellette school. Administration says the elementary wing heats up the quickest.
"We do have five fans. I brought a bunch of fans in from home. It keeps them cool a little bit; it helps anyway," elementary teacher Wade Rozell said.
And that's just one step teachers like Rozell are taking. Students in another class had ice cubes on their desks to help cool off during reading time. And others have been studying on the cooler tile floor.
That's just on the classroom side of things.
"We are the hottest spot in the school. You know with the ovens going and we have a steam kettle and we have steamers going," school cook Rita Walter said.
And with the early school dismissal coming after lunch, there's no getting away from the heat for the cooks.
Walter says they have cold water on hand to keep hydrated and she's relaxed the dress code during these hot days so the cooks can work as comfortably as possible.
That's the goal back in the classroom as well. Still, teachers say the early dismissal throughout the week has been needed.
"It's nice that we're getting out at 2:00 because that's the time when it really gets hot in our rooms and the kids definitely lose their attention about that time," Rozell said.
The school's superintendent says the district has talked about the possibility of installing air conditioning. But it's hard to justify spending the money when it's not needed for a majority of the school year.
The map below shows the school districts that dismissed early Wednesday due to heat.