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How superintendents decide to close schools

Updated: 01/27/2014 11:15 PM
Created: 01/27/2014 3:54 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

The last time severe cold weather hit us almost every school in the Rochester area closed and that was only a couple of weeks ago. The wind chili was the major factor then, just like it is now.

News10NBC is taking you inside the decision making process that every school superintendent is going through right now. Their biggest consideration is student safety. 

News10NBC went to Brighton because the superintendent is the chair of the council that oversees all districts in Monroe County. 

News10NBC’s Berkeley Brean asked, “You chose to, as did just about every district, close the last time.”

Dr. Kevin McGowan, Brighton School Superintendent, said, “Sure.”

Brean said, “Are you leaning that way this time? Do you know?”

McGowan said, “No, we'll follow the same criteria. So we'll take a look and decide either late today or early tomorrow. We try to take as long as we can to make sure we're really, very firm in understanding what the forecast is telling us. And then we'll make a decision based on safety. “

The school superintendents are looking at a letter from the Monroe County Health Department, which suggests that a wind chill of minus -25 as the temperature to consider closing schools. They also look at the wind chill chart from the National Weather Service. If the temperature is zero and the wind is blowing at 25 miles an hour, the wind chill is -24. All you need is the temperature to drop or the wind to pick up and the wind chill gets worse.

News10NBC talked to one of our experts, News10NBC Today Meteorologist Rich Caniglia.

Brean said, “And why is that temperature, -25, why is that a danger zone when we're thinking about people being outside?”

Rich Caniglia, News10NBC Today Meteorologist, said, “It has to do with how quickly frostbite can set in. When it's at -25, it can happen within 15 to 30 minutes. So that's when you really have to pay attention.”

To see the wind chill chart, click here. Chief Meteorologist Kevin Williams says the good news is that after Wednesday morning, the Rochester area gets a break from this kind of cold for at least several days. 

It is midterm week for some districts. Brighton is working on some alternatives. For instance, if they have to close, can they get the students who have to take the test to school? They’ve been working on a bussing plan for those kids since last week. There aren’t many so they think they can do it. Parents need to check with own school to see what they’re doing about tests.



Rochester

Few Clouds
71°
74° | 63°
  • Feels like: 71° F
  • Wind: W 18mph
  • Humidity: 49%
  • Mon Morning clouds followed by afternoon sun
    57° | 49°
  • Tue Abundant sunshine
    69° | 45°
  • Wed More sun than clouds
    71° | 48°
  • Thu Abundant sunshine
    76° | 53°