As a general rule, a windchill factor of 19 degrees is the determining factor for closing or delaying school in Michigan. But how does the temperature affect the decision to attend school? When it's very cold, families and staff often ask if the school will be closed due to the cold temperatures. Under certain conditions, extreme cold can cause the school to close for the safety of students and staff. Because teaching time is so valuable, we want all students to attend school as much as possible. Ultimately, however, families decide what is best for their children based on individual circumstances.
We hope this information will be useful for our students, families and staff to learn more about our decision-making process and the steps we can all take to continue teaching and learning even when it's very cold outside. When temperatures drop below zero, school administrators must make difficult decisions about whether it is safe to hold classes. The Ferguson-Florissant School District considers a set of internal weather guidelines to help determine if temperatures are safe for teaching. None of the three superintendents were optimistic about holding school on Wednesday, as the Lansing area received a wind chill warning starting at 4 p.m.The temperatures and snowfall forecast for Monday made it easy to make the decision to cancel Sunday night, said John Deiter, superintendent of DeWitt Public School. The superintendents of the DeWitt, East Lansing and Lansing school districts said cold winds of 20 degrees below zero increase the likelihood of closure.
With temperatures dropping from -15 to -25 degrees below zero the next two mornings, student-led call school patrol has been fully operational in more than a dozen schools in the Detroit metropolitan area that returned from winter vacation this week. State law gives each district the authority to control when it is open or closed due to the weather, and schools can cancel the equivalent of six days of school without financial penalty, according to Martin Ackley, director of government affairs at the Michigan Department of Education. A spokesperson for Grand Rapids public schools told MLive on Friday that the district has no formal cancellation policy due to temperature, but that it will focus on student and staff safety. On Wednesday, several charter schools and private schools closed, as did the Roseville community school district. The states in the upper Midwest are already preparing for the weather, and school districts in the suburbs of Chicago are preparing for a possible shutdown due to chills and temperatures forecast to be below zero. When deciding whether or not to close schools due to cold temperatures and wind chill, safety should always be a top priority. Schools should consider their internal weather guidelines and take into account student and staff safety when making their decisions.
Families should also consider their individual circumstances when deciding what is best for their children.