Despite the unusually cold temperatures on Monday, the Gateway area did not see record-setting highs or lows.
According to Clinton-area weather observer James Blaess, the closest the Clinton area got to setting a record was a tie for fourth place with a coldest high of 10 degrees below zero. That record ties one set Jan. 15, 2009 for the coldest high temperature of negative 10 degrees.
Although the area didn’t see record-setting cold Monday, area schools did play it safe and canceled classes for Monday and today.
“The primary factor we look at is student safety,” Camanche schools’ Superintendent Tom Parker said. “Then other things that enter into (canceling school) would be our buses and road conditions. With extremely cold weather just starting the bus can be a problem. It’s not that big of an issue for us in Camanche, because our route buses are kept in a garage, but other areas have those problems.”
School safety also carries over to staff and faculty, some of which are forced to travel to work in unfavorable conditions, and when the school district can add an extra day to the end of the school year, it is better to be safe than sorry.
“The repercussions are that you disrupt the school schedule but we make up the days at the end of the school year,” Parker said. “When you’ve got a lot of folks that tend to travel to school, parents and staff, you of course have to take into account their safety; safety is our number one priority.”
Many other factors go into account when deciding to cancel school, but along with Parker, Clinton School District Superintendent Deb Olson also agrees that student safety is the top reason for school cancelations.
“It’s not a cut-and-dry process. There are many factors that go into it,” Olson said. “(Monday was) not safe for our children, so that was pretty much a no-brainer. We are always congnizant of kids that have to sit at the bus stop or ride the bus for long periods of time, but the concern for us tomorrow will be starting our buses. Diesel doesn’t act real well in cold weather, so I don’t know what will be in store for tomorrow.”
To ensure student safety, Olson and Parker, as well as other area school leaders, feel it is in the best interest of their students to keep schools closed for today as well.
Local schools have not closed strictly because of cold weather since approximately January 2009, when temperatures dropped below zero degrees for multiple days.
“This right now is the coldest period going back to 2009, when we were below zero for 52 and one-quarter hours,” Blaess said. “And, it was even colder than it is now. We had a reading of negative 27 degrees on Jan. 16, 2009 and a reading of negative 26 degrees on Jan. 15, 2009, so that was even worse.”
Even though the cold stretch of 2009 recorded substantially colder temperatures than both today and Monday, Olson feels closing school is a necessary precaution because people are not used to dealing with extreme weather conditions.
“I think we live in a different time and I think people are not as accustomed to the weather as they once were,” Olson said. “We all seem to live in a different society today, so we don’t endure those types of hardships anymore, and because of that, our bodies can’t deal with that. I think we have to have considerations to that now.”