How does temperature affect the decision to hold school?
When very cold weather strikes we receive many questions from families and staff asking whether school will be closed due to cold temperatures alone. The answer is yes. Under certain conditions, outlined below, extreme cold may cause school to be closed for the safety of our students and staff.
The Ferguson-Florissant School District considers a set of internal weather guidelines to help determine whether temperatures are safe to hold classes. Our weather guidelines state that if the wind chill temperature is ABOVE (warmer than) -17 degrees at 5 a.m., schools are generally open. If the wind chill temperature falls BELOW (is colder than) -18 degrees at 5 a.m., schools are more likely to be closed. These guidelines take into account the amount of time it takes for exposed skin to develop frostbite and the average amount of time it takes for students to walk to school or wait at bus stops. Of course, other factors may also be considered, but these parameters provide a general guide. Click here to view a National Weather Service (NWS) brochure on wind chills to learn more.
When temperatures do not warrant closing, families should help their children to be prepared for the weather to make sure that they stay as safe and warm as possible as they make their way to and from school:
- Dress them warmly, in layers; with a hat, scarf, gloves and appropriate footwear.
- If your child generally walks to school, consider giving them a ride or having children from your neighborhood carpool together.
- If your child rides the bus, dress them warmly, but also consider waiting in the car with them at the bus stop, or having one person in your neighborhood maintain a warm car by the stop.
Just like our families do when school is in session during very cold weather, the District makes some adjustments in response to the weather to ensure our students and staff are safe and as comfortable as possible:
- Our transportation department begins preparing district buses as early as 4 a.m. to make sure the engines start and heaters work so that students have as warm a ride to school as possible. Drivers are careful to arrive at bus stops as close to “on time” as possible.
- Custodial and maintenance staff ensure temperatures inside our classrooms are comfortable and are on standby to respond to any facilities issues that can arise due to frigid temperatures outside.
- Recess and all gym class activities are held indoors.
Because instructional time is so valuable for all of our students to be able to achieve at the highest levels, we wish for all students to be in school as much as possible. However, ultimately, families decide what is best for their children based on individual circumstances. We hope that this information is helpful for our students, families and staff to know more about our decision-making process and the steps we can all take to continue our teaching and learning even when it’s very cold outside.