Archived Story

New normal on school closings [UPDATED]

Published 9:41am Friday, January 17, 2014 Updated 11:42am Friday, January 17, 2014

There is a new normal when it comes to closing of schools for weather in Minnesota, the fourth coldest state on average in the country and the northern most state in the lower 48 states.

The decision by Gov. Mark Dayton to close all K-12 schools last Monday was made the previous Friday, based in weather projections that proved true.

It was very, very bitterly cold for a few days of the week. Low temperatures were in the 30 below zero to 40 below range and highs for about a 72-hour period did not rise above the mid-teens below zero. Meanwhile, wind chills reached 50 below zero to 60 below.

But the governor’s decision was not met with unanimous approval.

Let’s face it, many people 50 years old and up never had a day off school because of the cold.

It’s Minnesota. It gets cold in the winter. You bundle up.

You deal with it. The first two are plain and simple facts. The last two are frequently heard comments from the “I walked a mile uphill both ways in below zero weather to school” generation.

But those were days when weather was, well, weather. Even extreme winter weather was, well, just extreme winter weather.

But now weather has become a 24/7 made-for-television reality show. And public pressure is often formulated and fueled by the over-abundance of weather coverage.

Meanwhile, we have become far more of a litigious society. Too many people are just waiting to file lawsuits with dreams of riches in their heads.

The irony, of course, is that even though school children are much safer today in weather events because of better and more immediate communication through new technology, cold weather is now viewed by officials as not just an annoyance or major inconvenience but as good reason to close schools for the safety of the kids.

Is that a good thing or not?

Have we become too soft and thus are sending the wrong message to the youngest generation?

That’s a debate that will continue.

But one thing is for sure — there is a new normal when it comes to cold weather and school closings.


— Mesabi Daily News

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