How cold is too cold? Schools cancel due to windchill

TOPEKA (KSNT) – “When I was a child, I walked to school in five foot of snow,” says parent, Stephen Maxwell.

But on Wednesday, clear roads and minimal snow meant no school for many Manhattan students. It was all because of the cold.

“Of all the decisions that happen in the school district, weather related closings are often the hardest decision to make,” says Manhattan-Ogden Communications Director, Michele Jones.

Sometimes the difficulty comes down to the parents, with schools worrying about kids not being dressed warm enough for the bus stop or the walk to school and getting frostbite.

But how cold is too cold? Jones says there’s no formula or temperature marker when it comes to canceling. It’s often a discussion between administrators. Where schools have to weigh safety versus learning.

Schools often rely on input from weather services to explain the windchill. A task that’s even more difficult with conflicting weather reports. Jones also says cancellation policies depend on the district.
Even with the cold temperatures, all of the schools in Shawnee County stayed open Wednesday.

“In our situation, a lot of our students are better off in school during the day than home, either alone, where maybe they won’t have a warm meal. Where, at school they would,” says Topeka School District Communication Director, Ron Harbaugh.

With both Topeka and Manhattan schools open Thursday even with the cold temperatures, Jones reminds parents, “Please, please have your students dress appropriately.”

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