Is Cold Weather a Poor Excuse to Cancel Classes?

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

Should schools close because of below-zero temperatures? | Credit: File Photos
Should schools close because of below-zero temperatures? | Credit: File Photos
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.

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):
  • Samantha Kracke: "Then ppl that work outside all day long shouldn't have to go to work. If kids who are in a building all day might not have to."
  • Kelly Leeson Dirks: "Let them go to school. If kids can play out when they are not in school they can certainly attended school when its cold. Is there any difference from parents dragging their kids to and from stores being in the cold? Unless the school has no heat they should be there"
  • Nick Fasano: "Wow... They're gonna have a rude awakening when they get out in the real world."
  • gajc: "No!!! Where raising our kids to be lazier and lazier. This generation is going to be calling in to work because its too cold they can't get in their car or wait for a train. Anything for the schools to get another dayoff. Unreal"
  • Scott Faletti: "I remember walking to school in colder temperatures. Keep the schools open"

Others, however, didn't think administrators would be overreacting to safety concerns if they kept kids from attending Monday if temperatures were below zero:
  • Melissa Heikes: "I agree with the kids who have to walk. It is dangerous especially because half of them don't wear coats or hats etc. Plus school buses suck in the extreme cold, they don't start and if they do they die out every 5 min."
  • Terry Ann: "It's absurd that people think this is not preparing kids for the real world. We are adults we can choose to call in Monday if we want. No children should be walking or waiting at bus stops. As adults we are wise enough to bundle up, as a child they decide a hat isn't necessary, etc. This is about children's safety!!! No brainer!!"
  • Sharon Maloney Russo: "It is not like they are getting a free day - it gets added on at the end of the year. For safety reasons the kids that walk or take the bus, they should close for the day. Wind chills in the negative 20s is reason enough."
  • Michelle Casey Tancredi: "The problem is not the schools. It is the children standing out on the streets waiting for the buses. Buses run late when the weather is cold and that means the children are out even longer in the cold!"
  • Jaime Gall- Sawicki: "It all depends on how well the furnaces keep up in the schools. And if the buses can keep warm as well. I trust the schools to make the right decision, just because other people have suffered in the past with colder temps, does not mean it's ok to do it now."

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.
Mom January 05, 2014 at 10:53 AM
I can see the kids being off if the school cannot provide (enough) heat to keep them warm, ON THE OTHER HAND, some of the above comments sound nothing more than the PARENTS just don't want to go out in the cold temps to start their cars to drive their kids to school. I agree with Kelly Leeson Dirks, you KNOW the kids will be out sledding if they have a day off so let them go back to school. C'mon people...it's Chicago for crying out loud!
William January 05, 2014 at 01:08 PM
I, too, in the real world, agree schools should be open. However, in our world with buses running slow, and probably cold, and with schools closed over the holidays the building may be too cold (if they did not begin warming those buildings Friday). But, if the schools have adequate heat, and the buses timely so the children won't be waiting out in the cold, then send them on. As for the children not wearing proper attire, that's on the parents. Teach your chldren how to bundle up, and help them. Also, this is a good time to drive those walking students to school. As for adults calling in because of the cold, shame on you. Unless you are sick, you should go to work.
bob busch January 27, 2014 at 08:21 AM
having been alive for 67 years and a teacher for 41 I think i have a little experience in these matters. I was taught at Chicago Teachers College that the health and safety of my students trumped all else.This month of January 2014 has been the best example of deadly weather i have ever known I have lived through months with more snow but never this combination of snow and perilously cold temperatures. Add in the howling wind and it is just not safe for kids to be outside even for twenty minutes. The school days can be made up,little lives cannot.


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