Who decides if it’s too cold to go to school?

Idaho Falls

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A former Burton Elementary School student shivers in the cold in Rexburg. File Photo by Nate Sunderland.

IDAHO FALLS – Bitter cold winter days in Idaho leave some kids dreading their morning walk to school.

On those days, many of the kids are probably fervently wishing for school to be cancelled. And it does happen occasionally, but it takes quite a few factors to come together before local administrators make that call.

In Idaho Falls School District 91, Superintendent George Boland and his transportation director Ralph Frost, correspond in the early hours of frigid or snowy mornings. They check conditions to see if they are safe for kids to attend school.

If there is inclement weather or a concern with buses on icy roads, Frost will travel bus routes and check to see if driving the routes will be manageable for drivers.

d there aren’t strict criteria on what determines a cold day or a snow day, D91 spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne said. I depends on a lot of variables.

“There isn’t a set temperature, it’s really a combination of factors,” Wimborne said. “That would include wind-chill factor, road conditions, forecasted temperatures, storm warnings, there’s just a number of things that would go into that decision.”

If the weather situation is decided to be unsafe for students the superintendent will decide to close all schools within the district. The decision for a closure is made around 6 a.m. and parents are sent notification via email, phone or text message, or through the media.

There isn’t a set amount of cold days and snow days at District 91. However if school closures became frequent and started to affect the amount of state mandated instructional hours, Wimborne said the district would then make assessments on any needed changed to its calendar year.

During the winter, the district encourages parents to bundle kids up for the weather. But that doesn’t always happen, said Amber Tomasetti, secretary at Longfellow Elementary School in D91. There are occasions where kids will come to school inadequately dressed for the temperatures.

In those cases, Longfellow Elementary has designated winter wear donated by parents and community members for students who are in need of a coat.

“Our parents here are very thoughtful and very generous, and they will donate their children’s coats that are in very very good condition,” Tomasetti said.

When temperatures are below zero school administrators will often usher them into the school if they are required to line up outdoors before class, and hold indoor recesses.

Wimborne said they understand recess is an important part of a student’s day and it serves as a great time to release energy and socialize. In the event of students are required to stay indoors because of low temperatures, teachers do what they can to keep kids occupied and entertained during allotted recess times.

At Longfellow Elementary School kindergartners have a designated multipurpose area for indoor recess. Other grades are able to engage in activities such as board games or watching a movie.

Although Idahoans may seem used to severe winter conditions, Wimborne said the safety of their students is something they carefully take into consideration.

Parents also have the right to keep their kids at home if they feel the weather is unsuitable to attend school.

“We want to make sure the conditions are safe for our students,” Wimborne said.