How cold is too cold to have school?

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The extreme cold could lead to some school closures this week.  The possibility of extreme cold causing frostbite could lead the cancellations.  Area districts have several different ways to determine whether conditions are safe for students.  Rockwood Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost says classes will most likely be canceled if a wind chill warning is issued.

“We pay very close attention to the National Weather Service,” said Knost.

He said the district is planning on having classes this week because there are currently no wind chill warnings for any part of the school district.

The Francis Howell School District tells us it does not have a specific temperature range that would force the cancellation of classes.  The decision is ultimately up to the superintendent with student safety being a top priority.  The district does have cold weather guidelines if school is still held in cold weather.  Outdoor activities are limited when the temperature drops below freezing and all activities must be held indoors if the temperature or wind chill drops below 15.

The Edwardsville Community Unit 7 District tells us an administrative team begins reviewing all potentially dangerous weather 24 hours in advance.  The district closely monitors wind chills, especially if they fall in the 15-20 degree below zero range.  The district also considers that nearly 2/3 of District 7’s 7,600 students rely on bus transportation and thousands of those students reside in rural areas.

The Fox C-6 School District tells us there can be many factors that decide whether classes are canceled but when it comes to temperature alone, they rely primarily on the advice of the National Weather Service.   If the NWS issues a wind chill warning, that can cause classes to be canceled.

The Parkway School District sent the following letter to parents outlining the district’s policies and reminding students to dress warmly.

Dear parents and staff,

As cold weather approaches this week, please know that we closely monitor weather conditions and our decisions are always based on the safety of your children. As a reminder, we currently have a two-hour late start scheduled for this Wednesday, January 30, for professional development.

Some of you have asked how we decide whether or not to close school due to cold temperatures. As the superintendent, it is always challenging to balance my desire to have children in school and also my desire to keep them safe. There are many factors, but these are some of the things we consider when making this decision.

Wind Chill Considerations:

Parkway utilizes the National Weather Service’s wind chill chart as a guide when determining whether to close school or reduce outdoor time due to cold temperatures.  Any time the temperature or wind chill temperature reaches the point at which exposed skin could experience frostbite, we consider closing school.  We also keep students inside or reduce time outside for recess based on the temperatures throughout the day.  Keep in mind the wind chill chart is a guideline, not a rule.

Preparing for Cold Weather:

It’s important that we work together to make sure students are prepared to go to school in cold weather.

  • Parkway buses are connected to heaters overnight and we will make sure our buses are started early and warm for your children when they arrive.
  • We encourage you to remind children to dress warmly.
  • Your child’s bus should always arrive within five minutes of its scheduled time. You may consider waiting with your child in a car until the bus comes.
  • If your child walks to school, we suggest you try to make arrangements for a ride to school.

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