Over two dozen students complain of nausea and other symptoms after assembly for topic that definitely could have waited for a cooler day.

On Thursday morning, Oizumi Sakura High School, a public school in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward, held an assembly in its gym. The topic of the program was how to protect yourself from fraud, which is an inarguably valuable life lesson, especially with Japan lowering its legal age of adulthood, and thus the age when teens become financially responsible for their own actions.

But while some may say it’s never too early to start teaching kids to watch out for swindlers, the timing of the assembly turned out to be a major mistake. With 700 students attending, the assembly took place in the school’s gymnasium, which has no air conditioning. Instead, the doors and windows were left open and three large electric fans were set up, which turned out to be a naively ineffective countermeasure to the high temperatures of one of Japan’s fiercest heat waves in years.

Though the assembly started at 9 in the morning, by 9:30 the temperature in Tokyo was already over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), and when it let out a little over an hour later, the temperature had climbed to roughly 32 degrees Celsius (89.6). Coupled with Japan’s high summer humidity, the conditions led to 25 students, three boys and 22 girls, complaining of heatstroke symptoms, including nausea and headaches. “It was like a sauna,” said one student. “During the assembly, some people were starting to collapse in their seats, and one after another left in the middle of it.”

The students had been told ahead of time that if they needed to, they could leave the assembly early in order to rest or drink water. But after seeing the condition the afflicted students were in after the end of the assembly, the school called for emergency medical services, with paramedics arriving and 10 of the girls being rushed to the hospital for immediate treatment. Luckily, none of them are currently in any danger, and are recovering from the ordeal.

As important as it is for schools to help protect students’ financial safety, most would argue that their physical well-being should still take precedence, and the school is being criticized for holding the assembly during such intense heat. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police are no investigating the incident, ostensibly to determine if the school is legally culpable for negligence or endangerment of the students, and Principal Takahiko Kamezaki has issue a formal apology, saying “I am extremely sorry for creating a situation which required emergency transport to the hospital. It was a foolish decision on my part.”

Sources: Yomiuri Online, Mainichi Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun Digital
Top image: Wikimedia Commons/あばさー