During the winter months, several factors come into play that could result in a delay of the school day or school closure. On particularly cold mornings, we continuously monitor the National Weather Service to stay up to date on the weather conditions.
Two possible scenarios that come from the National Weather Service that we pay special attention to are a Wind Chill Advisory and a Wind Chill Warning. The National Weather Service in Louisville, KY defines the two as follows:
• Wind Chill Advisory: Wind Chills between -10 and -24 degrees and at least a wind of 10 MPH or more.
• Wind Chill Warning: Wind Chills -25 degrees and below with at least a wind of 10 MPH or more.
When the National Weather Service issues a Wind Chill Warning for Mercer County for the time the school day begins, we will make a decision to close schools. It is quite likely we will make this type of decision on the morning of the day in question, as it is hard to predict what the wind chill will be the night before.
If there is a Wind Chill Advisory for the county, schools will likely be open unless there are operational problems with the bus fleet or mechanical problems in the school buildings.
Prior to making any decisions, district Maintenance and school staff walk through the buildings to assess the heating systems and to identify if there are any issues that would prevent children from being in the buildings. The Transportation Department prepare the buses in advance to run in cold weather by adding an additive to the fuel. On days where the weather is especially cold, they come in early to allow time for the buses to start and warm-up. On these extremely cold days, we have two additional buses, each accompanied with a mechanic, to opposite ends of the county. We do this so that if a bus breaks down, we have another bus nearby to keep the children out of the cold as much as possible.
The safety of our staff and students is our top priority when making the decision to delay or close school. We can assure you that our school buildings are warm, safe, and an ideal place for students to be when it is extremely cold outside. Even with the abovementioned safety precautions in place, we do ask that you encourage your child to dress appropriately for the weather including a winter hat, gloves, heavy coat and boots because prolonged exposure to extreme cold have serious risks including frostbite and hypothermia.
To get more information on how the wind chill is calculated see the National Weather Service Wind Chill Chart from the National Weather Service.