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How Cold Does It Have To Be Before Our Children Are Excused From Walking To School?

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

There use to be a day when a -35 and -40 below wind chill was considered dangerous and our schools closed for the safety of our students.  What has changed that they now go to school in these extremely cold temperatures?  I have scoured a couple local school’s websites and can’t find the magic number posted anywhere.

The reason I bring this up is that I remember hearing that it had to be a -50 below wind chill factor before schools would consider closing, does anyone know if that’s true?  Is that the number they wait to hear before closing?  That’s too cold and here’s why.  As far as ISD #709 goes, high school students that live within two miles of the school are expected to walk.

The following is on the ISD #709 website:

Transportation services are provided based on distance guidelines established by the School Board. The district provides transportation to:

Elementary students who live seven-tenths of a mile or more from school
Middle School students who live one and one-half miles or more from school
High school students who live two or more miles from school.

I received a weather alert email on January 6 from the emergencyemail.org that stated:

WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST TODAY… * LOCATIONS…THE BRAINERD LAKES TO DULUTH… NORTH TO THE IRON RANGE AND THE BORDERLAND… INCLUDING THE ARROWHEAD. * WIND CHILL VALUES…25 TO 40 BELOW ZERO. * IMPACTS…THE COLD WIND CHILLS WILL CAUSE FROSTBITE IN AS LITTLE AS 15 MINUTES TO EXPOSED SKIN.

I’m not great at math, but humor me.  I googled how long it takes an average person to walk a mile, they say 20 minutes comfortably, 13 minutes briskly.  That’s one mile, our local high school students are expected to walk two miles and we’re being told that frostbite can occur in as little as 15 minutes to exposed skin.  That does not add up to a safe walk to school.  Most students given a choice will not go to school and that hurts their academics.  Plus, it’s hard to believe but some students may not own the proper outer wear for these frigid temps or they simple think it’s uncool to dress that warmly and choose poorly.

I no longer have children in the school system, my daughter is 23 so I’m asking out of pure curiosity and concern for our local students.  If Kylee was still in school, I know that I wouldn’t be comfortable with her having to walk two miles in temperatures that cold.

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