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Cold weather—To close or not to close

Photo of student dressed for cold weatherHow does a school decide whether or not to close school?

According to Superintendent Richard Hughes, Central Valley uses a simple guide when deciding what to do about cold weather—if the sustained wind chill is -25°F. or lower, school is closed.

“When it comes to inclement weather, we ask one question, ‘Can we safely get our students to school and home?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ we hold school. If the answer is ‘no,’ we cancel or delay,” said Mr. Hughes.

“We follow the -25° threshold  as outlined in an excerpt from Monroe County Health Department guidelines referenced in a 2004 New York State Education Department memo. ‘As we approach sustained wind chills of -25°F, it may be time to consider later arrival especially for elementary children.’”

“Deciding when cold is too cold is subjective. We understand that parents will question our decision. Even school districts don’t always agree. Some will choose to close while others remain open,” he said.

Responding wisely to bitter cold

Central Valley encourages parents to make certain their children take appropriate precautions when arctic cold settles in. All students, young and old, should dress for the weather—long pants, winter coats, hats, scarves, mittens, etc. Students should limit their time outdoors waiting at a bus stop or walking to school. According to the State Education Department memo, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in 30 minutes at -25°F.

“We have to expect periods of cold in our region. Properly bundled up, students should be able to safely travel between school and home, even at -25°F.,” said Mr. Hughes.

“We understand that not everyone agrees. Parents should—and are encouraged to—exercise their own judgment when deciding whether to send their children to school on those days.”