Low temperatures can be just as dangerous as snow and ice

Low temperatures can be just as dangerous as

The Issue: People criticize schools for closing due to extreme cold.

Our View:  Schools prioritize student safety and shouldn’t be criticized for it.

CARLINVILLE (Jan. 18, 2018) – It’s inevitable. The minute school districts make the decision to call off school because of the weather, there are those who take to social media to log their criticisms. “In my day, school was never canceled because of the cold/snow/ice,” they write. While it’s unimportant whether such comments are accurate, it would be helpful if critics had some understanding of why decisions of this sort are made.

Following a significant snowfall or ice storm, it’s obvious why school is canceled. All one has to do is take one look at the street in front of their home to see the snow and ice make driving conditions dangerous. But when the roads are clear, people tend to assume travel is safe, and that isn’t always the case.

Since Christmas, this area has had to deal with temperatures that are considered unusually low for this time of year. While we here in Macoupin County like to think we’re all made of tough Midwestern stock, the truth is temperatures here don’t usually spend much time below zero. When temperatures are this low, a whole other list of concerns comes into play that’s beyond the criteria used when snow or ice make driving difficult.

Superintendents know their districts and they put student safety first. Even if there isn’t any snow or ice to worry about, when temperatures are struggling to stay north of zero, it’s dangerous for people to be out in the cold, especially children.

Anyone who has spent any time at a school understands there are many kids who arrive in attire that is wildly inappropriate for the weather. This happens for a variety of reasons. Most parents work and have to leave home before their kids catch their ride for school. Even if the kids have been told to wear specific clothing, it doesn’t mean they’ll do it. Apparently, even high school kids don’t understand the dangers if they’re not dressed warm enough. Kids will show up to school without a jacket, let alone a warm winter coat. It’s not unusual to see students arriving in sandals or flip flops in cold weather.

While there are probably some parents who don’t pay enough attention who what their children are wearing as they head out the door for school, there are times when a child will walk down the street wearing a perfectly good coat, but not bothering to zip it even though the temperature is well below freezing.

Things like hats, gloves and scarves might not seem as important but are vital as the temperature drops. During the few minutes it takes to walk from a parking lot to the building, skin and hands can become numb from the cold.

Venturing out when temperatures are dangerously cold should be taken seriously. A warm vehicle might seem safe, but when a car is stranded on the side of the road, it only takes a few minutes for heat to dissipate and for temperatures to become dangerous. Cell phones are great, but they can’t insure assistance will arrive before the cold gets uncomfortable and even painful.

While it may or may not be true schools close more often due to cold weather than they did in the past, the fact remains that extremely low temperatures, especially when combined with a wind chill factor, are just as dangerous as a foot of snow, if not more so.

Superintendents make an enormous effort to know the students in their district and will go to any length to make sure those students are safe. While it may not always be convenient to keep the kids at home, it should be preferred over a case of frostbite.