In light of dangerously cold wind chills, many districts in the metro began informing parents on Sunday that schools will remain closed on Monday morning. In fact, some are starting to set guidelines for closing.
FULL LIST OF SCHOOL CLOSURES: http://bit.ly/1aM18uo
Even the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus will be vacant on Monday. Officials announced all day and evening classes will be canceled, but the U will still remain open for other business and employees are expected to report to work.
The U of M isn't the only post-secondary school that is giving students the day off on Monday either. Both Concordia University and St. Thomas University also canceled all Monday classes due to weather, but the schools will still keep offices open.
All classes, meetings and events are also canceled at the Southeast Technical College campuses in both Winona and Red Wing. Furthermore, faculty and staff are being told not to report to work.
Minnesota State University in Mankato is also canceling all day-time classes and activities, but the officials haven't decided whether or not to also cut their evening programs. Any decision should be delivered by 2:30 p.m. on Monday, but university offices will be open.
Grade schools in St. Paul and Minneapolis have canceled all classes and activities for Monday, and the state's largest district, Anoka-Hennepin also announced its facilities would remain shuttered; however, the Anoka-Hennepin School Board meeting will still take place as scheduled on Monday night.
Although Minneapolis Public Schools officials cited "unusually cold temperatures" as the catalyst for their closure, Wayzata Public Schools pointed to "dangerously cold wind chills." Sunday's blustery conditions are expected to be amplified by extreme cold, with wind chill values dipping as low as -35 to -50.
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In Belle Plaine, Superintendent Kelly D. Smith sent a letter out to parents regarding school closures -- but not because the schools there will be out of session on Monday. That decision has not yet been made and may only be decided on the day-of.
Instead, Smith used the letter as a means way to the three school closures that have already taken place so far this year. Many districts are grappling with how to meet their required education hours as weather cancellations mount, but Smith has a proposal to make up the missed days that is raising some eyebrows.
The school's first closure coincided with the statewide order from Gov. Mark Dayton due to a historic cold snap, but Smith admitted regretting the decision to close schools a second and third time in hindsight.
"I believe we could have been in session," Smith wrote. "I would like to present some guiding principles for closings in the event that decisions need to be made in the future."
After explaining that the district's buses are housed indoors and are therefore unlikely to fail due to cold, Smith recommended using the NOAA Wind Chill Chart and National Weather Service as resources in deciding whether or not to close school. When the risk of frostbite is estimated at 10 to 30 minutes of exposure to the elements, Smith will recommend schools remain open provided other issues -- such as snow, reduced visibility and poor road conditions -- are not present.
"I believe that if we operate within the wind chill parameters set forth above, we are putting the safety of students first, but also providing opportunities to continue school on regularly scheduled days," Smith contended.
Smith is also asking parents to pay particular attention to winter weather attire, and ensure all children have appropriate apparel -- including mittens and a hat.
"If the decision is made to hold school on days of negative wind chills, it is the parents' final responsibility to determine whether it is safe for their child to go to school," Smith wrote, adding that a one-size-fits-all decision to close may not be best for families.
According to Smith, students who are kept home due to weather concerns will have the absence excused.
On Monday night, Smith plans to ask the school board to set President's Day -- Feb. 17 -- and Monday, April 21, as make-up days. The move would remove one scheduled teacher workshop day, and Smith acknowledged that the change in the school calendar could be a disruption for parents; however, those days could also be considered excused absences on a case-by-case basis if need be.