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Is Cold Weather a Good Reason to Cancel School?

Despite the coldest weather the Midwest has seen in 20 years, District 202 officials have said to plan for school to be open Monday. Do you agree?

Should schools close because of below-zero temperatures? | Credit: File Photos
Should schools close because of below-zero temperatures? | Credit: File Photos
UPDATE: At around 10 a.m. Sunday, District 202 announced that school will be closed Monday. No decision has yet been made for Tuesday.

READ: Winter Break Prolonged: Plainfield Schools Closed Monday

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Ever since the National Weather Service forecasted 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, deciding 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.

In Plainfield, administrators have told parents to plan for school to be open.

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):
Michael CordinI'm sure every student owns enough clothes to stay warm, but they won't wear it. I know Dist. 202 hates to cancel school, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet. The days are built into the calander and are there to be used. I don't enjoy having to "extend" my teaching year, but I also worry about my own safety. It's up to them, and I'm sure if they can have school they will.
David JohnsonIt's not the district's responsibility to keep your kid warm at the bus stop. It's yours! If you don't think it's safe for them to stand out there, get your lazy butt out there and drive them.
Margaret Neff-CrossDrivers are coming in early on Monday to ensure the buses are on time to first stop. So have your children ready to go. Plainfield hates to call school off that is a fact. At least a call saying were monitoring it. Its a step in the right direction.
Sunny DPlainfield school district please don't forget that we lost a special girl several years back on the first day back to school after Christmas break. The weather was terrible and they should have closed the schools and they didn't. A young girls life was lost that day.
Joel C: Leave it to 202 to put lives in danger. Valley View sets the example by being proactive and makes plans to close as soon as the forecast was known Thursday-Friday, but our dual superintendents are going to wait until the last minute and keep everyone hanging. Do they expect a miraculous heatwave? It's up to parents to protect their kids, keep them home and inside, regardless of what the non-decision makers decide.
Cassie K: I will not let my kids stand outside for 5-10 minutes in temperatures that will be -40 to -50 below zero and have the possibility of them getting frostbite. We have emergency make up days in May.
John N.: I love the comments "we never had snow or cold days" and the "schools should be open." Sorry thats bull, a lot of selective memory going on here. Its going to be cold on a dangerous level, the schools should be closed. The people calling for them to be open are also going to be the first people bitching and suing the district if something happened to their child because of the cold.
Jennifer R: I disagree with many of the posts here that say that it is unnecessary to close school. I teach in a different district, and we will find out if we have school or not on Sunday night. It is a DANGEROUS cold and there will be kids that have no choice but to walk or wait for a bus. It is an absolute no brainer...we make up the day when it is warm, and everyone stays safe.
Elizabeth R: Completely unnecessary! We live in Chicagoland and we all own enough clothes to make ourselves and our children warm. I understand people work and their kids usually walk, but are you telling me that you don't know ANYONE who could take your child to the bus stop or school for one day?
Denise B: Kids are out of school more than they are in. Years ago schools never closed.because of cold, snow. Even in extreme heat kids went to school, what is this generation and generations to come? Just saying
Karen G: Anyone of the adults who say the schools should be open. Would you take public transportation on Monday to work??
Don O: I dont care what they decide - my child will be home fast asleep and not in danger.... let me think.... have them go in -50 wind chill or 80 degree weather in late May.... cmon this is ridiculous


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.
Maureen January 05, 2014 at 08:06 AM
Safety is better than policy. My kids are not going. I'll listen to the National Weather recomendation.
MR60585 January 05, 2014 at 08:12 AM
We will have the coldest weather this region has seen in 20 years and we are pondering whether that creates risks for children. I can't believe two Superintendents can't figure out the answer to this story problem.
Vicky Polito January 05, 2014 at 09:15 AM
I also don't understand why school management is so intent on not using the allowed mechanism of calling bad weather days they have ability to use when needed. Has cancelling school this year been excessive? Does someone know how many bad weather days have been taken thus far this school year? I don't have young kids, but I have to say that I also don't like this dismissive tone about the difficulty of changing family and work plans, schedules, etc. because of a stranger's judgement that everyone can just snap their fingers and get their kids to school or the bus stop on a whim, either by themselves or by calling in back up. Monday and Tuesday sound pretty dangerous, not just inconvenient, so why not work together with parents and HELP the kids vs. being so adamant about school being open. It's pointless, especially if many parents will exercise their option to keep kids home and/or if many staff don't even make it in? This really does sound like the district is in some petty decision turf war with the community! I think everyone knows that the weather is not within anyone's control and no one can fault you when you have to respond to it safely and reasonably, on either side of the problem.
Barb January 05, 2014 at 09:29 AM
There have been no bad weather days taken this year so far. My concern is that I work and my children are 15 and 13. They take the bus. I have already left for work by the time the busses come for them. We have already had issues this year with buses being late. I do not want my children standing out there for 15 to 20 min waiting for a bus. I also work for the school dist and personally do not want to go out in this as well. When I was young they did cancel school on a day that was this cold. Many universities have alreAdy cancelled for Monday. The kids will be waiting during the time the temperatures will be at the coldest. I think a lot of parents are going to keep children home and schools are going to have low attendence anyway. Let's not put everyone at risk and call a bad weather day. That is what they are there for!
Kathy January 05, 2014 at 09:37 AM
Kids that are out in the extreme cold too long grow up with brains live David: @David Johnson: "It's not the district's responsibility to keep your kid warm at the bus stop. It's yours! If you don't think it's safe for them to stand out there, get your lazy butt out there and drive them." Sorry DAVE, parents who work or have young kiddos at home are far from lazy - it's a matter of a few minutes of exposure! What if the bus stalls? Salt stops working below 10degrees and the roads are very icy for transport. This is record cold - my gosh cancel it!
Barb January 05, 2014 at 10:05 AM
And I want to add that the bus drivers will have to spend 20-25 min out there cleaning off the buses and trying to get them to start. My sons bus has already had many issues this year one day he had to wait there for 30 minutes for another bus to come get him. He is the only kid on this stop. I will most likely just keep them home tomorrow. Neither of them have missed a day of school yet.
Joki2 January 05, 2014 at 10:13 AM
Keep the schools open!!!!! Kids bundle up, back in the 70s and 80s we always had school. The amazing thing will be school will be cancelled due to extreme weather but yet the parents will allow them to be outside sledding and playing in the snow. This is why kids now a days r so SOFT!!!!
Kathy Miller-Coote January 05, 2014 at 10:16 AM
You don't need the schools permission to keep your children home. It has already been stated that it will be an excused absence. You make the call, you make the plans,you are in charge!
Chris January 05, 2014 at 10:21 AM
As someone who went to school in the 70s and 80s, I can assure you that we did cancel school. I'm confused. Kids are soft because they will play outside? Also, even with you apparently attending school on days that were cancelled, you still don't seem to realize that "r" is a letter, "are" is a verb.
Lisa Perry January 05, 2014 at 10:26 AM
Small children can get frostbite in the time it takes to walk to the bus not to mention many sidewalks are not shoveled and kids will be forced to walk or stand in streets waiting which is another danger. Our bus is always late and we often wait up to 10 minutes or more. Many parents do not have the option of driving kids to school. I personally have a week old infant and cannot even drive yet. Schools need to consider safety first...something that I'd clearly not a priority in 202
Tracy January 05, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Schools are closed in Plainfield on Monday
Melissa January 05, 2014 at 11:15 AM
Here is my complaint. For picking up we have to be in lines. We have to turn off Our cars for those 10 15 min Our kids have to walk through the cars to get to Our cars. So they are walking in the cold in the car pick up line to find there car at Ridge! It's freezing and my 5 year old I pick up is going to have to walk through cars. I just had surgery. And can't get to the school a hour early to pick up which is when everyone else does. So what's the best choice
Joki2 January 05, 2014 at 05:22 PM
Chris u must have been a suburbanite growing up. The City of Chicago never closed school because of the weather. So u r soft two. LOL Please correct my spelling and grammar !!!!!!
Lisa S. January 05, 2014 at 07:53 PM
I am a parent with 3 kids in three different schools in District 202. My kids are MY responsibility. If I think it is too dangerous/inconvenient/cold for them to go to school, then I will keep them home. As a parent you do what you have to- including driving your kid, or making arrangements with a neighbor or missing work to stay home with them. They are YOUR kids, not District 202's!
Jacqueline Frank January 05, 2014 at 09:16 PM
My kids lives are the most important thing to me! Common sense should tell you there is no debate here. It is too dangerous to send your kids out of the home when it is that cold outside! HELLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joel Settecase January 05, 2014 at 10:23 PM
I understand the sentiment: you don't want to have to extend the year unless it's absolutely necessary. But when temps get this low, I think it's time to make the call and cancel. This is coming from a former teacher. As for me personally, I cancelled Grace Pointe Plainfield's Youth Group meeting tonight. I wasn't happy to do it (considering all the planning and preparation that goes into each week's event), but at the end of the day, it isn't worth it to put the students' safety at risk. By the way, if you are interested in GPP's Student Ministries, check out www.theyouthroom.net for more information.
Scott January 24, 2014 at 02:45 PM
The thing I have a problem with is adding days in May or June when they could take away days off during the year used for institute days or spring break.

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