MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dozens of schools across Minnesota are delaying or cancelling classes Thursday due to the arctic blast.
But every district has a different method for making the decision to cancel classes.
Rick Kaufman, executive director community relations emergency management for Bloomington Public Schools, is part of the four-person team that will decide whether or not schools should have class Thursday.
“The things that we’re looking at is how long will kids be outside, and in minus-29 temps, they start to get the impact of frostbite at 30 minutes,” Kaufman said.
Bus drivers will warm up their buses early Thursday, and school nurses will check students for signs of frostbite as soon as they step in the front door.
The district sent an email to parents Wednesday reminding them to dress their children for the weather. A similar note went out to St. Paul Public School parents
Kaufman and his team rely on the Hennepin County meteorologist and data from the National Weather Service to inform their decisions. But he says there’s no magic temperature that will cancel class.
“A number of school districts look at a threshold. We don’t have a hard and fast threshold,” Kaufman said.
The threshold to cancel for Minneapolis and St. Paul schools is minus-35-degree wind chill at 6 a.m. For Anoka-Hennepin, it’s when the National Weather Service says exposed skin can get frostbite in 15 minutes.
Some districts use a two-hour delay to wait for daylight, to see how the weather develops or to give plows time to get out. But Bloomington doesn’t do delays anymore.
“Two-hour delay doesn’t get us the advantage that it might for other districts that use it,” Kaufman said.
As long as the buses will run, teachers can get to school and students aren’t at risk for frostbite. There is a good chance that classes in Bloomington will be in session.
“Where we stand right now is we’ll have school, and any change in that decision would come by 5 a.m. [Thursday] morning,” Kaufman said.
Thursday morning’s feel-like temperature will be between minus-20 to minus-40 degrees. Frostbite can set in in as little as 10 to 15 minutes on exposed skin in those conditions.