Schools are closing to shelter students from the dangerous conditions accompanying winter weather, but location, school calendar requirements, and other factors influence decisions.
Lacking national or professional protocol, school administrators decide whether or not to close schools on an individual basis, reported The Washington Post.
Temperature is obviously a primary consideration and some districts, like Mason City Schools in Ohio, specify with degrees.
“Mason City Schools will close on days when the temperature and/or wind chill are below -20ºF to -25ºF,” read the district’s guidelines. “Temperatures with wind chills in this range are considered dangerously cold if exposure is over 10-15 minutes.”
Monroe County, New York, keeps a similar standard, with its Department of Public Health advising its neighboring school districts to close schools at a wind chill factor of -25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other school districts use a Weather Service chart for principals to gauge whether outside activities are safe. The chart displays the time it will take a person to get frostbite at specific temperatures and wind speeds.
Winter weather is unpredictable. Area districts often use a -30 degree wind chill benchmark when considering whether or not to school (per the National Weather Service chart below). Other factors are considered as well, and safety is a primary concern. pic.twitter.com/Mzl2hb1MmI
— O Fallon District 90 (@ofallon90) January 2, 2018
School districts also account for student needs based on income level and family structure.
Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia “considers the nearly 56,000 students who receive free and reduced-price meals each day at school,” said Matt Guilfoyle, the district spokesman, to WaPo.
Generally speaking, students at northern schools have a higher tolerance for cold weather than those in southern schools. But districts also account for road conditions, building durability, and even the average time students have to wait outside for buses.
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