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Surprising Science

Minnesota School Districts Answer the Question “How Cold is Too Cold?”

Northern states like Minnesota pride themselves on maintaining operations in the bitter cold. But today's massive cold spell has people wondering how cold is too cold for kids in school.

As Minnesota Public Radio’s Tim Nelson writes: “what’s true in politics is true also in weather: It’s all local. Or almost all local.” Folks in the chilly northern states pride themselves on persevering through bitter cold weather. Long-time Minnesotans scoff when much of the rest of the country cancels school at the first sight of snow. After all, what’s a little frozen powder to the descendents of noble viking warriors? 

Well, according to Nelson, several state school districts have decided to draw a line for when “cold” is way too cold:

“In St. Paul, schools will close if the forecast for 6 a.m. calls for a windchill below minus 40 degrees [also -40ºC], or air temperature below minus 25 degrees [-31ºC]. School officials will make a decision by 6:30 p.m. the night before cancelling classes.”

The people of Minneapolis, no doubt descended from a weaker tribe of vikings than their St. Paul cousins, have decided to set their wind chill threshold at a balmy -35ºF (-37ºC).

As for the rest of the Minnesota’s school districts, Nelson writes that only a few of them have set benchmarks for closing schools. That means the decision to keep kids at home is one arbitrarily made by school officials who prefer to take the issue up on a case by case basis. Some opt to delay school open rather than cancel outright. In rare cases the governor has been known to step in and cancel school statewide, though that’s only happened once so far this century.

For more on how Minnesota handles their school closures, be sure to check out the full piece linked below:

Read more at Minnesota Public Radio

Photo credit: Gts / Shutterstock


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