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Blueberries In Danger: Temperatures In Maine Spike To Scorching 90s


It is hot in New England. The region is getting a blast of summer a little earlier than usual. Temperatures rose into the mid-90s today as far north as Maine. Maine Public Radio's Fred Bever is sweating it out and has this report.

FRED BEVER, BYLINE: At least nine public school districts in Maine either went to all-remote learning for the day or sent students home before the worst heat hit to continue instruction online. Kathy Harris-Smedberg is interim school superintendent in Bangor, Maine's second-biggest city. Only one of the school district's buildings has air conditioning. So when temperatures and humidity started rising Sunday, she visited several to make an assessment.

KATHY HARRIS-SMEDBERG: When I'm in a classroom and I'm sweating and there are no other students, what would it be like if you added a classroom full of students and staff?

BEVER: The superintendent says that in other years, when heat's grown concerning, the district has deployed fans to make classrooms bearable. But that goes against today's pandemic-era protocols. So she decided to take advantage of another pandemic-driven trend and declared Monday a remote learning day.

HARRIS-SMEDBERG: It would just provide a level of safety that maybe we haven't always thought of before. Obviously, I'd prefer to have students in person, but I felt this was one of those, you know, unusual circumstances that this year seems to have brought.

BEVER: But some adults took the day to play. On a windy beach in Saco, Maine, Jane and Justin Cooper weren't avoiding the heat. They were reveling in it.

JANE COOPER: I don't think we have enough of these days (laughter) each summer. Before you know it, it's over, where the nights are getting cooler. So I'll take it.

JUSTIN COOPER: It's what we live for, right? So there's, like, two weeks in July, and the rest is winter.

JANE COOPER: (Laughter).

JUSTIN COOPER: So embrace it while it's here. It's pretty short-lived.

BEVER: The National Weather Service says New England temperatures will moderate slightly on Tuesday but likely remain above the norm until Thursday. And the service predicts that the entire summer is likely to see warmer than usual temperatures.

For NPR News, I'm Fred Bever in Saco, Maine.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In this report, we incorrectly refer to Bangor as Maine's second-largest city. It is Maine's third-largest city.]


Corrected: June 7, 2021 at 9:00 PM PDT
In this report, we incorrectly refer to Bangor as Maine's second-largest city. It is Maine's third-largest city.
A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.