Amidst the hottest, longest heat wave felt in the city in years, a coalition of parents gathered at a rally Wednesday at Lorena Street Elementary in Boyle Heights, to demand that the Los Angeles Unified School District do a better job of protecting its students.

The parents, part of the group Reclaim Our Schools LA, claim the district lacks a comprehensive plan and is being woefully behind in supporting its most vulnerable students during a climate crisis.

The group said lack of green space on many Eastside school campuses exacerbates the heat students have had to deal with these past two weeks. 

“LAUSD has a greening index that tells us this school is one with the highest need and on days like today, it only makes the heat worse,” said Arelia Valdivia, the coalition’s executive director. “They’re either being kept inside because it’s too hot, or they’re left outside to deal with the heat and this is having an impact on our students’ health.”

LAUSD’s Greening Index ranks over 600 school campuses across the district in order of the most asphalt and least amount of green space. Of the 150 schools listed as “very high need”, most are located in South and East LA.

Parents at the rally also pointed towards a lack of cold water being readily available for students who instead have to rely on warm, sometimes metallic-tasting water from school fountains.

Some teachers in the area have had to rely on water bottle donations to keep students hydrated during the triple-digit heat wave, according to posts on a private forum for Eastside teachers. Others mentioned air-conditioning units failing for days.

“As the heat wave continues to grip California, [LAUSD] remains a leader on heat mitigation at schools,” said the District in a statement released on Tuesday. “We appreciate the advocacy and partnership by community organizations and we encourage our local, state and federal elected officials to prioritize greening infrastructure investments in schools and our communities and develop climate change solutions for California and beyond.”

A full video of the rally which was live-streamed on Instagram: 

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