Should Schools Close Due to Bad Weather or Freezing Temperatures?

By Elizabeth Rice

Last Tuesday, January 29th, a very high chance of snow projected to begin around one. While schools around us including Roanoke were closing at least two hours early, Botetourt County still did not close at all.

However, last time this happened, student drivers were released to drive home early. Buses also would have the problem of having to drive on poor road conditions regardless. This is unless schools were released early because the bus drivers had to get the elementary and middle schoolers before the high schoolers.

This week also consisted of two days with very low temperatures in the mornings of Wednesday, January 30th and Friday, January 31st. Thursday morning it was in the twenties until 10 A.M., and the wind got up to 16 miles an hour at 10 A.M. It was even worse on Friday, January 31st being in the teens and not even reaching the twenties until 10 A.M., and then not reaching the thirties until 2 P.M. (Weather reports by Weather Underground).

Students are having to face the freezing cold to get to school which can get dangerous especially for kids having to wait on the bus. While they did realize it was too cold and gave us a two hour delay on Friday, we still had school when it was in the low twenties which is ten degrees below freezing on Thursday.

Even though twenty degrees isn’t that cold compared to other places, it can still cause a danger when having to wait in that temperature. According to The Old Farmer Almanac’s Wind Chill Chart, when the temperature is twenty, even with a windchill as low as only five miles an hour, it feels as if it is thirteen degrees which was the case on Thursday.

Opinions: Do you think schools should close or at least close early when there’s more than a fifty percent chance of snowing? Why or why not?

Myself:  I think they should consider if we should have school or not and watch the windchill and temperatures when it gets below freezing especially when it feels like it’s half below freezing.

Erin: “I think schools should close if it’s below 20 degrees. There are little kids that have to get on the bus early and have to wait at their stop in the cold! It’s very sad.”

Tessa: “When the temperature is in the twenties but feels colder than that, I think that schools should either open late or close because although the students would be inside the school and warm, getting to school and having students wait outside for the bus could be harmful to the student’s health.”

A teacher: “Yes.  Many people complain when we have school canceled or early release due to weather citing that in the old days schools were never closed, but they don’t take into account that in the “old days”  there were neighborhood schools and many students walked to school. Buses didn’t have far to travel. While it is difficult when the process of learning is disrupted by multiple snow days, I think anytime there is a threat which would endanger students it is best to err on the side of safety.  In regard to cold weather, I can tell you that we have many students without warm coats who must wait outside for buses. The frigid weather then becomes a safety issue also.”

What about when it’s only in the twenties and feels around 13 degrees?

Myself: Even though the weather that was projected did not come, they did not know of this at the time. I believe schools should still take precautions and close in advance if there’s a very high chance of snow coming. They should be more focus on the insurance of everyone’s safety than having to finish the rest of the school day.

Erin: “I think schools should close because if it starts snowing and we are released early then kids might get into accidents on the way home because of the snow or inclement weather.”

Tessa: “I don’t think that schools should close entirely if there’s more than a fifty percent chance of snowing, but I do think that schools should close early if it begins to snow while school is in session because the weather could be dangerous for student drivers and buses driving home.”

A teacher:  “If weather reports indicate that temperatures will increase, I think a two hour delay is appropriate. This would prevent any dangers from the cold weather while allowing students to be in school.”