When Is It Too Cold For School?

9:11 AM, Jan 16, 2009   |    comments
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With extremely cold temperatures headed our way, many parents are wondering if our kids will have school or not. 

We asked around and here's the information that we received.

Gowanda School Superintendent Charles Rinaldi tells us that several factors figure into his decision making.  Among them, how many snow days are left, the number of walkers, the air temperature and of course, the windchill factor.  He says at about -10, they start to think it's a good idea to close up for the day.  Meantime, Buffalo schools have a different number.  At about -20 windchill, they make the decision to close shop. 

The Williamsville School District says their superintendent is up before 5am, checking with the district's transportation supervisor, the town police and highway departments, and the forecast about current conditions.  Dr. Smith also checks in with neighboring superintendents for their status.  Williamsville offers bus transportation to all students, so there isn't that immediate concern about as many walkers.  The district says at the bus garage mechanics start up the buses before drivers arrive to de-ice and warm the engines, and make sure there are no mechanical issues in order to stay on schedule.  The district says general guidelines provided by health officials say when the windchill is in the minus-25 range, that's a time to consider closings.

In Hamburg, a village district, 13-hundred of the four-thousand students are walkers, and that is a consideration, says superintendent Dr. Mark Crawford.  "When you're walking into a head strong wind and it's cold, you're not walking straight up looking around.  So your alertness, you're not paying as much attention to traffic."  He also said the temperature when he begins considering closing school because of temperatures is about a minus 20 to minus 30 wind chill.

At BOCES 1, Superintendent Don Ogilvie says he is responsive to the decisions of individual school districts where they have sites.  He says parents also have to be mindful of the bitter cold.  "We do know that children's skin in extreme cold is much more sensitive than adults.  Both are at risk at some level.  We have a special concern for people, particularly the very young," he said.

Ogilvie added that many of the buses have a harder time getting started in the cold weather.  "And we have to make sure the engine and oil are warmed."  "No one ever thinks a school closing is easy when it relates to snow.  But I dare say msot superintendents would say it's an easier decision than wind chill factors."

He said parents with kids at the bus stop should consider waiting with them in a warm car to be picked up.  Ogilvie said most districts have about three snow days built in to a school year, but can draw from staff development days if need be.  Also, with ELA testing going on this week, should there be a school closing, plans are in place to complete the testing next week.



Stay tuned to Channel 2 News Daybreak and WGRZ.com for the latest and up to the minute closing list.

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