MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — Hundreds of schools across Minnesota called off classes on Wednesday because of the dangerously cold temperatures.

School is canceled in the state’s two largest school districts, Anoka-Hennepin School District and Minneapolis Public Schools.

WCCO talked to the chief of communications for Minneapolis Schools about why they decided to close.

He said it’s not a decision they take lightly.

They know it is a hassle for parents to line up childcare or stay home from work, but the district felt it would be too dangerous for kids to be outside.

Other schools districts, like St. Paul, decided to stay open.

St. Paul Public Schools’ winter weather plan is that schools will close if the wind chill is below minus 40 degrees or the air temperature is below minus 25.

It wasn’t quite that cold Wednesday morning.

Officials with the St. Paul School District said about 18,000 students attended classes Wednesday. That’s a little less than half of the around 37,000 students in the district. Officials said they get about 95 percent attendance for a standard daily average. Officials said there were also very few school bus issues, a little more than one percent, among the 315 buses and 835 routes that happen every school day.

And, as with other districts, some of the students are homeless or highly mobile and they rely on school for shelter and breakfast and lunch.

Officials with AAA vehicle assistance have had a busy day in the bitter cold. They say they’ve had to provide assistance to about 800 members by 1 p.m. That’s their average amount for an entire day. Most of the calls were to jump dead car batteries, tow vehicle and fix flat tires.

Temperatures across the state are well below zero. And, with the wind chill, those readings have dipped to 40 below at Bemidji and minus 29 in the Twin Cities.

Experts say the temperatures can cause frostbite on exposed skin in 10 to 20 minutes. The brisk wind can also cause a greater loss of body heat.

Forecasters say Thursday and Friday will continue to be bitterly cold. Thursday’s high temperature could hit 13 degrees, but it will drop back to single digits on Friday.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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