Worthington City Schools is closed today, Friday January 3rd, 2014 due to extremely cold temperatures. At 8:15 A.M. as I type this The Weather Channel tells me that it is -14 degrees with wind chill. Anytime the wind chill is projected to reach -20 degrees we have concerns about the potential length of time our students will be waiting at the bus stop or the time it will take to walk to school.
Our Executive Director of Administrative Services and our Superintendent use The National Weather Service Wind Chill Index to guide the decision making process along with information from our Director of Transportation regarding the conditions of side and neighborhood roads across the school district. On very cold days with potentially icy roads it’s possible buses will run up to 30 minutes late. If they do, we must ask ourselves if we are comfortable with our students outside. Thus, -20 degrees with wind chill is a loose line we follow. If we lived in a more Northern climate where these temperatures were the norm, the decision point would probably be different. However in Columbus, Ohio these low temperatures are not normal. It has been several years since Worthington had to close for extremely cold temperatures.
While this doesn’t happen often, it may happen again next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The current weather forecast shows that we may have more extremely cold temperatures early next week. This may not actually happen as even Worthington’s own Chris Bradley is wrong once in a blue moon, but parents may want to begin to have back-up plans just in case.
And, the timing could not be worse. Our calendar has students off on Monday, January 13th so that teachers can complete report cards for the first semester. The following Monday, January 20th is the holiday for MLK Jr . Thus there is potential that school will be on a disruptive schedule for January.
As a school district we want to be in school. The idea of a snow day is fun for everyone. One. After that they begin to grind on parents as students are cooped up and childcare is an issue. They begin to grind on teachers because plans are disrupted, students do better with routine, and the need for learning is urgent. Ultimately everyone wants to be in school.
As an administrative team we work to make the best decision with the information that is available. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we may miss. Our goal is always to do what’s best for kids. Let’s hope for a warm-up next week and some consistent time in school!