School districts could cancel for extreme cold

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MARION COUNTY, Ind. (Jan. 20, 2014)– It’s not just the snow that has local school superintendents paying very close attention to the forecast again this week.

Even without snow falling, school leaders said the extreme cold and dangerous wind chills could be enough of a reason to cancel class in some situations.

Some students start boarding the school bus before the sun even comes up.

Signs of the extreme winter are everywhere, stacked up in high school parking lots and even in administrative offices, where Franklin Township superintendent Dr. Flora Reichanadter wonders what kind of blow Mother Nature will deal this week.

“The potential for more snow days is a little bit scary,” she said,” We’ll be monitoring the temperature. Anything that starts dipping below zero, we’ll pay close attention once it hits about ten below. Then we’ll make decisions about closing or canceling school.”

School closures because of slick roads are typical. But Reichanadter said it’s possible students could stay home if the district decides it’s too cold. Their benchmark wind chill is -19 degrees.

The main concern isn’t keeping students warm at school. It’s getting them to school, since they have to wait in neighborhoods for buses.

Reichanadter said bus service isn’t a certainty when the mercury gets below zero. Sometimes the fuel gels, and the buses won’t run. Franklin Township has heaters on bus engines to prevent freezing.

“If it’s a wind chill issue, we may likely delay if there is some increased temperature in the next two hours,” she said.

Parents said they understand the delays for safety’s sake, but they worry about the shrinking summer and weeks of winter left to go.

“It’s a little bit concerning with them missing school and having to make it up at the end of the year,” said Mark Goodman, a parent.

Delays can be frustrating for parents. Reichanadter said she understands, but they only delay school if conditions will improve that day. In their district, YMCA childcare is available even if there is a delay.

FOX 59 spoke with a number of school district Monday. Most said they would consider canceling class for extreme cold, but it���s done on a case-by-case basis.

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