20 Aug 2014
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Is Cold Weather a Poor Excuse to Cancel Classes in Wheaton?

Administrators will decide Sunday whether or not to close suburban schools Monday because of possible below-zero temperatures. Is this a good idea?

Is Cold Weather a Poor Excuse to Cancel Classes in Wheaton?

By Joe Vince

Ever since the National Weather Service predicted that 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.

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.

In St. Charles, for example, Community Unit School District 303 officials are monitoring what the National Weather Service is calling dangerously cold wind chills that could hit -40 degrees. The district will post an announcement before 5:45 a.m. Monday if it decides to call classes. The district’s website, however, notes that special consideration is made when temperatures are below zero, or the wind chill drops to -20.

Similarly in Wheaton, local school officials have not issued a decision on whether they will cancel classes Monday.

St. Charles and Wheaton Patch readers engaged in a quite active dialogue via Facebook on Saturday night when asked, “Is extreme cold a good reason for schools to cancel classes?”

Within hours of posting the question on the Patch Facebook pages for St. Charles and Wheaton, more than 45 responses had been recorded in St. Charles, and 28 people had responded in Wheaton.

Some readers thought canceling classes would be akin to coddling the children, while others questioned the necessity if the roads are clear and the school buildings warm.

On St. Charles Patch’s Facebook page, readers offered these thoughts:

  • Mike Baier Um...no...do the schools still have heat?

  • John Fredrick As we continue to coddle children and never make them learn how to deal with adverse or unpleasant conditions... how will future generations survive?

On Wheaton Patch’s Facebook page:

Many, however, didn't think administrators would be overreacting to safety concerns if they kept kids from attending Monday if temperatures were below zero. In fact, many readers said it would be helpful if the school districts would announce their decisions Sunday to allow parents to make any necessary plans.

From St. Charles Patch readers:

  • Jeff Fender Do you want your 8 year old waiting for a bus in -10 degree weather with a -40 wind chill? Then again, I think it's a no Brainer given a litigious society.....

  • Ken Dieter Some children half to walk to school and when the temperatures are dangerous they should not be out in this weather so yes cancel class and please do not wait until 5am Monday! That puts an added burden on parents who have to make alternate arrangements.

  • Megan Vonesh Bennett I'm not sending my kids either way...they will NOT be standing out there waiting for their buses (if the buses are even able to start) and I'd rather have everyone home where I know they are safe. The forecast is just downright dangerous. Not fair to expect the teachers to go out in it either.

  • Mary Ann Wagener Campagna I so agree with Ken though. Cancel it now. Not fair to working parents to wait until the last minute. It is going to happen. Be proactive D303!

From Wheaton:

  • Sheila Dewell if it's considered dangerously cold, then kids shouldn't be going to school. Kids safety trumps education for a day. Cancel classes.

  • Janice White For the sake of the students who wait at a bus stop, school should be closed...too dangerous for anyone to be outside unless absolutely necessary!!

  • Carey Elizabeth Panttila Yes! Less than 5 min until frost bitten, regardless... My kids won't be goin to school.. that is dangerously cold!

  • Debbie Jones- Knepper Yes. Classes should be canceled. We have been told that it is too dangerous to even be out in the severe cold. Not just the kids but staff and teachers must also try and get to their respective schools. Better safe than sorry

  • Kristina Rominski They are calling for windchills of -40 to -50. That is just not safe for anyone to be outside.

Local editor Ted Schnell contributed to this story.

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