Wind chills -15: What factors schools look at to cancel class

AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – With actual temperatures forecast in the low single digits and wind chills as cold as -15 degrees early Wednesday, area school administrators are closely monitoring the forecast.

Tuesday morning, area superintendents were communicating with one another, trying to determine whether they will use a calamity day.

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Among the districts paying attention to the elements is Akron Public Schools.

Debra Foulk, Executive Director of Business Affairs, tells Fox 8 there is no magic number that determines when schools will close or if they will remain open.

However, late Tuesday afternoon, APS announced that its students would have a calamity day Wednesday.

“It’s January, and so we already are aware of what we may see over the next couple of days,” said Faulk.

Forecast details here

“Please understand our first criteria is the safety of our students, and we have students, Dave, that honestly without us wouldn’t have heat and don’t have food in their home,” said Foulk.

“We want to also take into consideration that our families, when our students are here, know that they are safe warm and dry and fed, and they don’t have to worry about daycare or other things because they may not have those arrangements during normal school days,” she added.

For those families who may not have heat in their homes, the city of Akron has opened a designated warming center at the Summit Lake Community Center during the day and has opened an emergency overnight shelter on Voris Street.

Foulk says while the district pays attention to extreme weather conditions well in advance, a decision about closing schools is typically not made until early morning on the day when the weather event is forecast.

“We do truly look at everything, but we tend to make morning of because things could change radically overnight as you can see anytime with Ohio weather.”

And even while the district might not close all its schools, individual buildings could be impacted differently.

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“I noticed this morning that some of the schools closed because they had no heat, so obviously if you have no heat, each individual day or incident is individually calculated depending on the information that you have,” said Foulk.

Of the Akron Public Schools’ nearly 20,000 students, it is difficult to say how many walk to school, the district says.

For those who ride yellow buses, the district uses a GPS app called Stopfinder to help parents determine where their child’s bus is and when it is expected to arrive at their stop, so that kids don’t have to wait longer than necessary outside in extreme conditions.

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