Education

Even without snow or ice, frigid weather with wind can sometimes close Kentucky schools

With more frigid weather headed this way, kids and parents might be wondering how cold it has to get before Fayette County Public Schools will cancel or delay classes.

Making that determination is not just a matter of air temperature, district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.

"Fayette County Public Schools considers a combination of factors, including ambient (air) temperature, wind chill, precipitation, road conditions, sidewalk conditions and weather forecasts," Deffendall said.

During the 2013-14 school year, Fayette County missed 13 days of school. Two of those 13 days were due solely to low temperatures. On both of those days, the low was minus-4 degrees, with wind chills of more than 20 below, she said.

The district has no weather policy regarding recess. Principals in every school use their best judgment to determine what is best for their students, Deffendall said.

The Scott County school district also does not have a specific temperature at which officials delay or cancel schools, Superintendent Patricia Putty said.

"We don't want our kids, obviously, standing out in sub-zero weather," Putty said.

School officials watch forecasts carefully and look at what "hour by hour" temperature is expected before delaying or cancelling school, she said.

Scott County cancelled one day last winter because the temperature was near zero, but Putty said that also that day, pipes had burst at two county schools.

Sherri Hannan, director of Safe Kids Fayette County, said parents should take precautions to keep school-age children warm while traveling to school and playing outdoors. Children and the elderly are at the highest risk for hypothermia, or low body temperature, and frostbite, she said.

Hannan suggested that if possible, parents and caregivers should drive children to the bus stop and let them wait for the bus in a warm car.

Older students who drive should make sure that cars are in good working order and keep winter weather emergency kits on hand.

Hannan said the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents call 911 if they suspect that a child is suffering hypothermia. Children are at greatest risk of hypothermia when they aren't wearing proper clothing or their clothing is wet, she said.

Other recommendations include making sure every child going outdoors has adequate winter gear, which includes boots, gloves and a hat.

Layering thin pieces of dry clothing is most effective in extremely low temperatures.

"It's just thinking ahead and being prepared," Hannan said.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments