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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?

By Joe Vince, Editor

Ever since the National Weather Service forecasted 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 to decide 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.
Concerned resident January 05, 2014 at 09:04 AM
Yes, most definitely schools should be closed. It's not just getting to school it's heat at school and bus service as well. Plus, school staff has to get to work. It's the responsible thing to do.
Steve January 05, 2014 at 12:42 PM
The wussification of America continues.
art January 05, 2014 at 03:16 PM
it's a safty precaution for the kids, close schools. this is not a regular cold day.
Jan Lapointe January 05, 2014 at 05:06 PM
keep everyone off streets except for essential workers...everyone stays safe _ roads and transportation get cleared. What's wrong with that?
Peggy Magrady January 05, 2014 at 08:30 PM
Who cares, our children are being taught in under rated schools by under rated teachers and school board members.
WLA January 05, 2014 at 09:44 PM
Growing up in the late seventies and eighties we had plenty of snow/cold days. Somehow I have managed to grow up and get myself to work under any weather condition if my employer asks. Snow days are a part of childhood like summer vacation, not the "wussification of America" Also since most kids are walking or waiting for a bus these conditions are not safe.

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