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School districts eye forecast as temperatures sink

Published: Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 9:30 a.m. CDT

ELGIN (AP) — Illinois school administrators are closely monitoring the weather forecast to decide whether to cancel or delay classes because of bone-chilling temperatures that are expected to early next week.

The National Weather Service predicts wind chills Monday and Tuesday in northern Illinois could sink to 45 below zero and the air temperature could fall to 20 below. The high temperature isn't expected to crack zero.

School district officials are surveying the forecast, the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reported ( ).

"When you start getting close to negative 20, it's getting pretty cold," said John Hutton, superintendent of Gurnee School District 56.

But officials said cold temperatures don't necessarily mean automatic school closures. That's because there's no statewide standard on how cold is too cold for students to attend classes. Instead, each district decides for itself after considering a various student safety issues.

"It is rare to close schools due to low temperatures, and that decision would not be made this far ahead based on a forecast," said Patrick Mogge, a spokesman for Elgin Area School District U-46.

Still, districts are already planning to take extra steps to keep children warm.

At Naperville Unit School District 203, busses will start running earlier than usual to make sure they're warm when students board. And building maintenance crews will be closely monitoring heating systems.

District spokeswoman Susan Rice said schools will tweak certain policies when the mercury falls.

"On days when it is extremely cold, students are welcomed into the building upon their arrival and have recess indoors," she said.

But, she said, students and parents may need to do their part, too.

"It's important that students prepare for the extreme cold weather by dressing appropriately with plenty of layers," she said. "Students who walk to school may require a ride to reduce their exposure time to the cold."

Decisions about school closures may not be made until the night before or the morning of class.


Information from: Daily Herald,

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