Pop Quiz: Brrrr…It’s too cold outside! Keep those students at home!?
Most of the United States is having one of the worst winters in years. Even as I type this it is in the negative digits where I live and the wind chill is bitingly bad. Also, because of these ridiculous temperatures every school in the area, including major universities and colleges, are closed for the day.
Around the midwest, closing schools for inclement weather is generally not a bad idea. Sometimes we get so much snow and ice that conditions are extremely dangerous outside. This year is a bit extreme in my area there are schools who have had maybe a total of three days back to class since Christmas break. For K-12 this means that those days must be made up at the end of the school year. So this year summer vacation time is going to be shorter for some. However, for higher education days off do not get made up and this means that some material does not get presented to the students or will be glossed over very quickly to get back on track. So to cancel class the weather has to be pretty lousy.
Yesterday, class was in session at my college and the roads were horrible in the morning. I had students who were late (understandable) and some that just decided it was not worth it (understandable.) It took me almost three times as long to drive to work as usual but I made it there. On the way home, the roads were fine. So I was a little shocked last night when all of the universities and colleges in the area were announcing their closures for today. Granted it is so cold I have a wall of icicles 3 feet long blocking my back door but it did not snow last night and the roads were pretty clear. So I suspect that most of the students probably could have gotten to class.
It is funny but I seem to remember when I was young that I trudged uphill in 5 feet of snow in shockingly cold weather to get to school. I do not remember having days off because of temperature. I only remember having no school for an ice storm or snow storm. I even remember spinning out on a major highway during an ice storm on my way back home from one of my classes in college.
So, this Fridays pop quiz: Do you think institutions of higher education or K-12 should shutdown for just cold weather? Should the policies for shutting school during cold weather be different for K-12 than higher education?
* I want to thank PZ Myers at Pharyngula for writing a similar post and giving me the idea for this Fridays pop quiz.
** Also, read Tori Parker’s thoughts on snow days in an earlier post from this year.
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it to appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons (ET).
Featured image: Knickerbocker Snowstorm, author unknown.