First-Grader's Hair Caught in Fan Handed Out by CPS

The Chicago Public Schools, in an attempt to help cool down students in this week’s unseasonable heat, reportedly distributed more than 36,000 tiny portable fans and cost one first-grader a good chunk of hair.

Shortly after the fans were distributed at Smyser Elementary School, a 6-year-old’s hair got caught in her fan and her teacher had to cut it out, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

During this week’s high heat and elevated humidity, CPS officials encouraged parents to keep their kids in school as the district follows heat protocol measures "to provide comfortable environments for instruction and school activities."

Temperatures reached 95 degrees in some locations Tuesday afternoon, matching a record set 30 years earlier. Humidity levels weren't as high as Monday, keeping heat index readings only a few degrees above the actual temperature, but that didn't make it any easier for some.

According to the report, Smyser Elementary received about 480 fans and handed them out Wednesday morning.

The girl’s mother, Suzanne Kusar, told the Sun-Times that her daughter said the kids were putting the foam-bladed fans in their mouths and they were later taken away. She called the idea of handheld fans as a solution to the heat issues CPS has faced, “evidence of CPS’ disconnect.”

And CPS is no stranger to air conditioning concerns.

Last month, Mollison Elementary School on the 4400 block of South King Drive blew a transformer, likely because that transformer couldn’t handle a cache of new air conditioners added to the building.

The power situation at Mollison prompted numerous Chicago reporters to ask Chicago Public Schools officials to tell the public which schools had air conditioning on premises, and how many other schools were at risk of losing a transformer.

A CPS spokesperson later said 330 schools were fully air conditioned, 153 had partial air conditioning, and 40 schools were not air conditioned.

CPS also sent over its heat protocol for schools.

As part of our standard heat protocol, all principals and network chiefs have been instructed to follow the following plan:

  • Drawing shades in rooms to keep out sunlight
  • Turning off overhead lights when feasible
  • Moving classes, where possible, into cooler parts of the building. In cases where a building is partially air conditioned, using those rooms (again, where possible) as opposed to non-air conditioned or warmer rooms
  • Providing water and regular water breaks
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