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Is Cold Weather a Poor Excuse to Cancel Classes?

Administrators will decide Sunday whether or not to close suburban schools Monday because of possible below-zero temperatures. Is this a good idea?

Should schools close because of below-zero temperatures? | Credit: File Photos
Should schools close because of below-zero temperatures? | Credit: File Photos
Ever since the National Weather Service forecasted that temperatures in the Chicago area could reach 5 below to 15 below zero early this week, administrators for school districts throughout the region have been monitoring weather reports, deciding whether or not to cancel classes Monday because of the extreme cold.

Chicago Public Schools announced Saturday that schools will be open Monday and Tuesday, but parents are being told to use their own judgment on whether it's too cold for their children to attend, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Most suburban school districts, however, won't make a decision about closing schools until Sunday evening. Many of these schools have been on winter break since the end of December, and Monday would mark the first day back.

The idea of canceling classes because of cold temperatures was a topic that got some heated responses from Patch readers who thought such a move mollycoddled kids and sent them the wrong message. Here's what some of them had to say on Facebook and in the comment sections (remarks are not edited and appear as they were originally posted):
  • Samantha Kracke: "Then ppl that work outside all day long shouldn't have to go to work. If kids who are in a building all day might not have to."
  • Kelly Leeson Dirks: "Let them go to school. If kids can play out when they are not in school they can certainly attended school when its cold. Is there any difference from parents dragging their kids to and from stores being in the cold? Unless the school has no heat they should be there"
  • Nick Fasano: "Wow... They're gonna have a rude awakening when they get out in the real world."
  • gajc: "No!!! Where raising our kids to be lazier and lazier. This generation is going to be calling in to work because its too cold they can't get in their car or wait for a train. Anything for the schools to get another dayoff. Unreal"
  • Scott Faletti: "I remember walking to school in colder temperatures. Keep the schools open"

Others, however, didn't think administrators would be overreacting to safety concerns if they kept kids from attending Monday if temperatures were below zero:
  • Melissa Heikes: "I agree with the kids who have to walk. It is dangerous especially because half of them don't wear coats or hats etc. Plus school buses suck in the extreme cold, they don't start and if they do they die out every 5 min."
  • Terry Ann: "It's absurd that people think this is not preparing kids for the real world. We are adults we can choose to call in Monday if we want. No children should be walking or waiting at bus stops. As adults we are wise enough to bundle up, as a child they decide a hat isn't necessary, etc. This is about children's safety!!! No brainer!!"
  • Sharon Maloney Russo: "It is not like they are getting a free day - it gets added on at the end of the year. For safety reasons the kids that walk or take the bus, they should close for the day. Wind chills in the negative 20s is reason enough."
  • Michelle Casey Tancredi: "The problem is not the schools. It is the children standing out on the streets waiting for the buses. Buses run late when the weather is cold and that means the children are out even longer in the cold!"
  • Jaime Gall- Sawicki: "It all depends on how well the furnaces keep up in the schools. And if the buses can keep warm as well. I trust the schools to make the right decision, just because other people have suffered in the past with colder temps, does not mean it's ok to do it now."

One thing most commenters agreed on, though, was the desire for districts to make a decision as soon as possible so that parents could plan accordingly.

YOUR TURN: Do you think below-zero temperatures are a good enough reason for schools to cancel classes? Or do you think that sends the wrong message to kids? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Dave January 06, 2014 at 11:16 AM
I agree with keeping home. First transporting kids to school would be dangerous as they have to wait for a bus that may not even statt or stall on way or get driven by parents. second you are relying on school utilities to continue to function say the boiler/furnace goes out. this happened to my school when I was in 2nd grade. we were lucky enough to have another building with its own heating plant (our gymnasium) available, but that was still cold so we had our coats with us there. if this was not available then you would need to get the students home ASAP. what if home was al locked up cause parents unavailable at work or their car broke down. third having education in both emergency medicine and meteorology understanding normal temperature along with windchills. your body requires to be at a certain temperature in order to survive. if not you will begin to have organ failure and can lead to possible death let alibe frostbite and loss of extremity limbs. true the body produces heat, but at the same time when wind is blowing away that heat your body is being subjected to colder temperatures which leads to the above conditions of frostbite and hypothermia. the stidents do not lose the education because they are beong extended a day and they lose a day of summer vacation in the process. so it may seem they are being taught laziness but at the same time they do learn responsibility and also consequences to havig a make up day. teachers also may not want to nor be able to drive if their transportation does not start or roads closed due to plows being pulled off streets during the night. In my opinion I think the school administrators went in best interest and safety of he kids. and the community. comminity in regards to being able to keep at same levels or reduce their heating needs and keeping your homes heated.
Dave January 06, 2014 at 11:21 AM
catherine brings up a good point too. ice. bridges along 294 have had multiple accidents. remember ice melting salt does have a minimum temperature before its chemical reaction stops working and everything begins to freeze. causing yourself to be in danger especially if you have to drive on ice and all emergency personnel who have to respond to you. they are not superhumans and suffer from frostbite and hypothermia just liew the rest of us. responding to what could be an avoidable accident takes them away from responding ro medical emergencies like a heart attack or stroke.
Dave January 06, 2014 at 11:39 AM
For those who have not seen... http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/windchill/ we are talking about a 10 minute or less window to keeping frostbite from occurring.
Dave January 06, 2014 at 12:48 PM
another scenario. water pipe to sprinkler system breaks (happened at my job when it was 4F outside) and fire alarm always goes off. students faculty and staff required by law to evacuate due to fire alarm being activated. this is very possible in cold temperatures to have the water pipes break
ChiCubs1 January 07, 2014 at 03:12 PM
I agree with you - but then I shouldn't see these kids at the gym or in the stores. if their school is cancelled because of the weather - they should remain indoors!!

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