Is Cold Weather a Reasonable Excuse to Cancel School?

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

File photo.
File photo.
UPDATE: 10 a.m. Sunday:

Crystal Lake District 47 School Board President Jeff Mason said administrators are waiting until Sunday to make the "school closure/ open" call to see if the forecast changes one way or the other. Check back to Patch for an update on closures.

Original story posted 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4

By Joe Vince, Editor

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):
  • "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."

  • "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"

  • "Wow... They're gonna have a rude awakening when they get out in the real world."

  • "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"

  • "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:

  • "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."
  • "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!!"

  • "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."

  • "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!"

  • "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.

SSerious January 05, 2014 at 08:05 AM
I'm not a proponent of "letting kids off" school but this is just a safety issue. The last thing we need is a bus freezing up with kids on board or walking to school. If this were to happen, then we'll be calling off school at every subzero event going forward. It's a rare (extreme) weather event and then by all means; teach them to adapt & send them to school on Martin Luther King Jr Day (scheduled day off) instead.
Kim G. January 05, 2014 at 09:39 AM
I have 2 walkers & 2 bus riders. If there is school I will be driving them. The wind chill temps they are predicting (-40 to -50) are extremely dangerous. I don't want my kids standing at a bus stop for who knows how long or walking in that dangerous weather either.
Nicole Kurishingal January 05, 2014 at 03:18 PM
My son's preschool called me on Friday to say they were closing for both Monday and Tuesday this week due to the weather. Safety first is a smart idea. Starting tonight through Tuesday evening it will be the coldest weather we've had in the area in over 20 years! Common sense people. The safety of our kids is paramount.
Slick Rick January 06, 2014 at 11:27 AM
My sister and I used to walk from Dartmoor to Canterbury with snow almost up to our knees some times. Boots, two pants, snow pants, two shirts, sweater, ear muffs, a hat, and a big coat. Dont remember what the temperature was but we would always attend school when it was open.


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