School leaders keep close watch on wind chills

Jan 29, 2019

School superintendents across the region will be keeping a close watch on the weather changes Tuesday and early Wednesday. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says extremely cold conditions are a major concern.


“The thing that we care most about is making sure they're safe and if it's not safe, then we cancel,” said Michael Cornell, superintendent, Hamburg Central Schools. 

Recent snowfall in metro Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Cornell tells WBFO News when it comes to difficult wind chills, school districts must consider how dangerous it could for students traveling to and from school. 

 

Dangerously cold wind chills are being predicted of 25-below zero for Wednesday  morning into Thursday afternoon.  The National Weather Service says that means if you are outside with exposed skin, frostbite can occur in 15-minutes or less.

 

“I think ten minutes is typically the average walk time to school or wait time at a bus stop. That’s the point at which we start to wonder if it is really safe. You know 20-below is the number that I hear most often disgust and you know we will wait and see,” said Cornell.  

Snow plow on Route 5 in Hamburg in stormy weather in 2016.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Cornell points out in the Hamburg district they have community schools, like Charlotte Avenue Elementary.  There are about 250-students, but only three school buses deliver students, many of them walk to school. 

 

“You know those are little girls and boys in their snow suits walking to school. So if it’s 25-below that’s going to be pretty tough stuff for them,” Cornell remarked. 

                 

Closing a school is always a tough call for superintendents and it can cause a predicament for families to find child care. But Cornell said they will always air on the side of "caution".  

 

“I’d much rather call school off and you know the (snow) band shift or the storm fizzled and have it be not quite so bad, then you know decide to have school and have it be twice as bad as you thought and our kids in harms way,” Cornell said.  

Snow starting falling Tuesday morning in downtown Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Buffalo Public School District is also keeping a close watch on the cold conditions.  The district issued the following statement Monday:

 

 

 

WINTER WEATHER STATEMENT

January 28th, 2019

 

The most important defense against freezing weather involves a combination of caution and prevention.  

 

As the National Weather Service issues weather advisories, we in the Buffalo Public Schools are monitoring the weather with student safety in mind. Gloves and boots with insulation are a must, a hat should be worn so that ears are covered, a heavy coat with several layers under it is best, and a scarf to cover one’s neck and face is important. Most schools have some form of winter weather gear to give students, and our Parent Centers have child and adult coats in various sizes through Operation Warm.  Parent Centers can be reached by phone at the numbers listed on our website at buffaloschools.org.

 

The decision of whether or not to close schools is based on New York State Department of Education guidance. When the National Weather Service issues wind chill advisories between -15 and -25 degrees, the Buffalo Public Schools will strongly consider closing. 

 

Local media and our website will carry closing information.  Because most of our students are walkers, either to the bus stop or their neighborhood school, the district takes special interest in their safety in relationship to the weather. 

 

Stay tuned, and dress for the weather.