Listen to the winter weather and closing schools podcast episode
Click here to listen to the winter weather and school closing podcast episode, featuring special guest Superintendent Dennis Carlson, in the Anoka-Hennepin Podcast Network (AHPN) section.
Where can I get information on school closings due to weather?
To get information regarding school closings or delayed start times, you should monitor school and district websites, and pay attention to TV and radio news reports.
The district will post any general information about school closings/delayed start times on the front page of the website (www.anoka.k12.mn.us) and the district's Facebook page and Twitter account. Sign up for the district's weather status alerts with email or text updates here.
The district also releases this information to TV stations (WCCO, KSTP, FOX 9, KARE, Northwest Community TV) and WCCO radio. You may also call the district office at 763-506-1000. The district office phoneline is answered from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Note: Check with individual schools on the status of specific activities. Those responsible for activities scheduled in schools over the weekend determine whether or not an activity will be held if weather is a concern.
How cold does it have to be to close school?
The safety of all our students is our first priority when determining if it is safe for schools to stay open in very cold weather. In making this decision, we use the National Weather Service wind chill chart, which uses a combination of air temperature and wind speed to determine the length of time a person may safely be outside. Click here to view or download the chart.
The goal is to be within the wind chill range where students can be outside for 30 minutes without risk of frostbite. This should give students time to walk to school or wait for the bus safely. By dressing children properly, parents/guardians can protect against the effects of cold weather.
Why don't you close school when it is really cold and windy?
Even when it's very cold and windy, typically businesses and government offices remain open, and most school districts in Minnesota, including all those in the metro area, remain open.
The decision to close school is a serious one, and it affects many working families who would have to take a day off of work or find day care on short notice. Some families do not have these options and their children may be left home alone. Often, children are more at risk when we close school. As the largest school district in Minnesota, with more than 240,000 residents and approximately 39,000 students, many families and businesses are affected when Anoka-Hennepin closes its schools.
Extremely cold weather is not unheard of in Minnesota. Many times it gets very cold in the state while school still is in session. By dressing children properly, parents/guardians can protect against the effects of cold weather.
What if I am concerned about the weather and school is in session?
In case of very extreme winter weather, parents/guardians have the final decision on whether or not to send their children to school. If school is open, students are expected to attend. However, if parents/guardians they feel their children would be in danger they can choose to keep them home. The absence will be excused if the parent/guardian calls to report it prior to the start of school. If the school is not contacted, the student will not receive an excused absence. Students who are already in school will not be excused if they choose to go home.
How does the district determine if it is safe to operate buses?
District transportation staff members drive roads and check with bus company staff, local city and county public works staff between 4 and 5 a.m. to determine if streets are open and buses can get through. We also check weather forecasts and consult with other school districts who may be experiencing the same or similar weather.
When we have snowstorms and similar winter weather, the roads are slippery. It does take us a little longer to get through routes; however, we plan as much as possible to be on time.
In a district of our size, more than 170 square miles, it would be difficult for us to maintain a site to track conditions across the district. Parents should assume that unless school is called off, our school buses are running.
I heard that Anoka-Hennepin never closing for weather related problems. Is this true?
No. Typically, when Anoka-Hennepin has closed school, the conditions were snow and ice - conditions that kept buses from running. In 1994, then-Gov. Arne Carlson ordered schools closed due to extreme wind chill temperatures.
Anoka-Hennepin closed in the fall of 2005 following a large rainstorm that caused a number of power outages. In addition it has closed several times in recent years for snow or cold. For example, it closed on March 15, 2002 (due to heavy snow fall overnight), March 2, 2007 (due to wind chill), Feb. 29, 2012 (due to ice and snow) and March 5, 2013 (due to heavy snow fall and unplowed roads in several areas of the district).
Tips on appropriate dress for cold weather:
Wear several layers, the layer of air between each piece of clothing acts as extra insulation
Wear clothing that insulates, shields and breathes. Wool and polypropylene are good insulators
Outer layers should be wind and waterproof
Wear wool socks and well-fitting waterproof boots
Wear a hat to prevent heat loss
In most cases, mittens are warmer than gloves
In extreme cold, cover all areas of exposed skin
Does the district lose money if school is closed?
No. The district does not lose state aid if school closes for weather or other emergencies. State revenue is based on the number of students enrolled in school, not on the number of days in school.
Will elementary students be allowed outside for recess when it is 25 below zero?
No. The guideline for keeping children inside for recess will be zero degrees or 10 degrees below zero wind chill. Accommodations for children with special medical needs can be made with the Health Services office; written documentation from a doctor will be required.
Are student crossing guards allowed out in cold weather?
Yes. School staff check student-crossing guards to ensure that they have warm and proper clothing to be out in cold weather.