Today was my Dad’s birthday and also coincidentally the hottest day of the year with more than 30 ° Celsius. Even now, well past midnight, the temperature is still over 20° Celsius.
Today, I also experienced a phenomenon that was fairly common in my younger years but is rare these days, namely “hitzefrei”, which means that the students (and teachers) get to go home early because of excessive heat.* The traditional rule was that the temperature must exceed 25° Celsius in the classroom at 11 a.m. for the kids to be given the rest of the day off. And it definitely was hotter than 25° Celsius at 11 a.m., so the kids got to go home after the fifth lesson. Consequently, my afternoon class didn’t take place either. Which I was very glad about, because I’d been dreading the afternoon class all day, since I’ve been assigned what must be the hottest room in the school, south side with direct sun exposure.
I was quite surprised that the students were given the rest of the day off due to the heat, because “hitzefrei” had been phased out during my later years at school. The reasoning was that they couldn’t just give students the rest of the day off, because they couldn’t arrange for the busses to take students home early (“Not my problem”, I told the teacher back then, “I always go by bike”). Besides, working parents would be annoyed when school finished earlier than expected, because they needed reliable school hours (“Not my problem”, I told the teacher again, “My mom doesn’t work and besides, I’m more than capable of taking care of myself”). So I was quite surprised that “hitzefrei” had apparently been reintroduced, while I was at university. Though the bus reasoning doesn’t apply to our school, because we are served by public busses and not by designated school busses. As for the “parents will be annoyed” reasoning – well, certain parents are always annoyed about something.
Apparently, the current rule in Lower Saxony, i.e. the state where I teach, is that headmasters are free to decide whether to give the rest of the day off or not.
*German schools are usually not air-conditioned, so there is very little one can do on extremely hot days except either bear it, go outside or send everybody home.