At lunchtime, Rosalind Carter can usually be found taking a break from her job as a medical records technician at Sinai Hospital.
But yesterday, as temperatures soared into the mid-90s and schools throughout the metropolitan area again sent their sweltering students home early, Ms. Carter was among 20 or so parents who skipped lunch to make an unexpected trip to Calvin Rodwell Elementary School on Liberty Heights Avenue to pick up their children.
"I had to take my break later so I could get him to my mother's house," said Ms. Carter as she led her son Brian, a second-grader, down the cement stairs of the school and into her waiting car.
Ms. Carter was among thousands of parents throughout the state who had to respond quickly to the decisions by school boards to close schools in the early afternoon as Maryland suffered through another day of record high temperatures and stifling humidity. School systems throughout the state closed early.
Some parents arranged rides for their children with relatives, friends and baby sitters. In some cases, the day-care centers that normally took the children after school picked up their charges a little earlier than usual.
"Their parents made arrangements with the center to have us pick their children up early," said Brenda Meyers, a day-care assistant at Tender Care Day Center in the 4500 block of Liberty Heights Avenue. "This way, there is no inconvenience for them since they don't have to leave work to come get their children."
Barry Jordan, formerly an employee of Westinghouse Electronics, had to provide taxi service for his niece, first-grader Juanita Gross, because her mother works in Hunt Valley and was unable to make the trip to Northwest Baltimore.
"When she gets out at the regular time, she gets picked up by the day sitter. But today, when we found out [the children] were out of school, I was the only one available to get them," Mr. Jordan said.
The early closings did not sit well with Monique Hart, a data entry operator for the city government.
"Today, my daughter said the baby sitter forgot about her," said Ms. Hart, whose daughter, Kashina, is in the first grade at Calvin Rodwell Elementary. "She sat in the school office until [the sitter] came back for her.
"When schools got out early about two weeks ago," Ms. Hart continued, "a teacher allowed her to walk home by herself. Just let her leave. She got home OK, but I was scared when I was told. I made an effort to call the school to make sure she wouldn't leave by herself this time and the sitter leaves her."
Ms. Carter said that the school system should give parents a little more warning before deciding to send the children out of the school to figure out how they will get home.
"The [school system] has to realize that life is hectic and I've got other things to do. This sort of thing is a little inconvenient for working parents."