Today, Chicago Public Schools are closed due to the oppressive cold that is outside–highs may be negative (Fahrenheit) with wind chills minus-30 or lower. This is a rare occurrence! As it turns out, however, it was not so rare in my EARLY elementary school years. Let me explain…
I used to live in Fort Dodge, Iowa, between preschool up through third grade. It is a small community in north-central Iowa. It was not unusual for long cold snaps where the high would not exceed zero degrees. The wind was BRUTAL in this are of the country–very dangerous wind chills would result.
The snow was rarely so heavy so as to prevent people from getting to school. But, the extreme cold created a LOT of altered school days: either late starts, early dismissals, or outright cancellations. As my Mom recalls, there were days where they would serve lunch at 10:00, and be able to call it a “complete” day after dismissal shortly thereafter. (The school day started at 08:30 normally.)
Why would extreme cold cancel school? The risk of frostbite is one thing, and another big reason in Fort Dodge: the cold did not gel well with the diesel gas that the school buses used. Evidently, buses using diesel can stall due to the gas gelling up.
When I moved to Lincoln, there were no snow, ice, or cold days called during my first year there (fourth grade). However, the next year included the infamous October Blizzard which shuttered schools for an entire week, and then there were also two more snow days at the beginning of March (which also stranded Mom and Dad in Omaha, after returning from a tropical vacation.
There were no snow days during my sixth or seventh grade years, but there were FOUR of them during my eighth-grade year. In fact, there were four consecutive no-school Mondays between December and January, due to two snow days and the winter break!
I guess I’ll stop chronicling the other snow days that I have had throughout my scholastic and academic career. The gist: they seem to have become more common!
Today is the three-hundred and seventy-fourth day of Mission 441. Sixty-seven days remain.