Schools consider safety first in cold weather
By Correne Martin
All area schools were canceled Monday, due to freezing temperatures in the 35o to 50o below zero range, with wind chill. Meteorologists warned about the dangers associated with these conditions, such as frostbite and hypothermia happening in a matter of minutes.
Area superintendents were contacted for a reminder about what goes into the determination to call off classes in cold and snowy winter weather. Of course, each of them said the safety of their students and staff is always their first priority.
At River Ridge Schools, anytime the temperatures reach 10o or greater below zero, administration immediately looks at the wind chill temperature.
“If there were no wind chill factor, we could operate school at colder temperatures,” Lee Pritzl said. “We think of the worst case scenarios happening if we do have school during dangerously cold temperatures, such as a child waiting for a bus or walking to school. We also think about what would happen if a bus broke down in the cold temperatures and how long the children would have to wait in the cold before a relief bus arrived.
“In our district, we have many hills and valleys that can produce difficult driving conditions during severe weather, so we get out and check the roads and communicate with the bus company, neighboring schools, and authorities before making a decision.”
Mike Garrow, at Wauzeka-Steuben Schools, agreed. “When the temperatures get dangerously cold, we have to consider not only our own district transportation, but the opportunity for all our students to arrive safely at school,” he said. “We use news media resources, communication with other districts, and internal communications throughout the process. While you may never please everyone when making a decision (to close, have a delay, or remain open), we make the decision with the students in mind. When actual temps approach 25o below zero or winds chills are at 35o below zero, a decision to delay or close is made.”
Prairie du Chien Public Schools, according to Drew Johnson, their procedure states that school is called off when air temperature is below -25oF or -60oF with a wind chill.
“In addition, if a wind-chill “warning” status is released from the National Weather Service, then that usually signals no school,” he said.
For Seneca schools, when weather becomes very cold, Dave Boland said administration consults with its transportation supervisors, and closely monitosr the National Weather Service websites, in order to make the best decisions for their students and staff.