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How Do Schools Decide To Close, When Is The Decision Made?

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(credit: CBS) Angela Davis
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of school kids across the state got to stay home again Thursday because of the extreme cold.

This is the third day this month, the sub-zero temperatures have kept students out of class and that’s very unusual for Minnesota school districts.

School administrators talked about what goes into the decision to close on Thursday.

It’s everything from concern about frostbite, to the possibility that buildings might have heating problems or water pipes that burst, to school buses fueled by diesel having a difficult time starting and then continuing to run on time.

“When you are looking at wind chills, severe wind chill factor, you are talking about frostbite and kids’ skin freezing quickly. That really is the decider for us. Taking a look at that frostbite factor,” said Jean Ronnei, the chief operations officer for St. Paul Public Schools.

The St. Paul Public School District made the decision to close around 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

They spread the news on their website, and through phone calls and text messages to parents. But still not everyone received word.

“We have a street safety group that goes out along with our police officers, looking to see if there are kids at bus stops. There were 30 kids discovered at bus stops and they were taken care of. Some were St. Paul kids and some were not,” Ronnei said.

Recreation Centers were popular places to go, as kids were stuck at home and sought to get some exercise.

Ronnei said teachers often see students who come to school not dressed appropriately for the cold weather.

“If you have a teenager, you know sometimes they don’t wear their hats and mittens. We want our kids to be properly dressed,” Ronnei said.

Right now, there are no plans to add makeup days to the school calendar, but there’s more extreme cold weather ahead.

“We are just having a conversation about the weather forecast for Monday. We will be watching that tomorrow to see if there is a significant change,” Ronnei said.

Administrators at Minneapolis Public Schools are also watching the forecast closely and looking at Monday, as well.

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