In these circumstances, here is the most frequent question I'm asked:
Q: What temperature is too cold to have school?
When making the decision, I look at the hour-by-hour windchill projections. The first thing I am looking at is what the windchill is going to be for our students who will be waiting at bus stops and walking to school. The news outlets often report what the windchill is going to be at the coldest point. I am concerned about the time frame between 6:30 a.m. -8:30 a.m. when our kids are coming to school.
The next thing to look at is the duration of the cold. When the windchill estimate is that cold at the end of the day when buses are dropping kids off to walk to their houses, that is an additional reason for concern. This certainly came into play today when making the decision.
There are lots of other factors. This time around I also looked at wind gusts. They are not considered in the windchill numbers we see often times, but high gusts at bus time make a big difference in how safe it is to be outside. I also look at road conditions. Tough road conditions and severe temperatures are a dangerous combination.
Once I have considered these things and others, I spend time talking with Superintendents in nearby districts. Often times we make these decisions together. Sometimes we disagree on the best course of action and do what we feel is best for our district, but we certainly work together to make the best decisions we can for our students.
I will not always get it right. I have unfortunately made enough of those calls the past year and a half to get a few wrong already. But I will do the best I can to balance the importance of continuity in our children's education with avoiding risks to keep them safe.
(Image used in article with permission from http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Olaf/Gallery.)