Cold And School: Why I’m Mad

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School was canceled here yesterday because of the cold.  And then today we had a 2-hour delay, again because of the cold. 

I was–am–kind of mad about it.  Obviously the school district doesn’t care that I’m annoyed, but I am nonetheless.  On a small scale, I’m annoyed because my kids and I just really needed to get back into a normal routine and have a little more structure in our days.  On a larger scale, I think this was an opportunity to teach an important lesson about preparation and perseverance.

It’s January.  It’s cold.  Granted, this week’s cold snap was unusual, breaking a 20-yr old record for the coldest temps in the DC area.  But still…yesterday was about 10 degrees out, hovering around zero with the wind chill.  Today it was close to 20F when Matt left for work just before 8AM.  It’s cold, but it’s not THAT cold.  In many areas of this country, these temps are the absolute norm for winter.  

Monday night, my FB feed started filling up with posts from people betting on whether we would have school Tuesday or not.  At first I thought it was a joke–I mean, school couldn’t possibly be closed because it’s cold in winter, right???  Then I realized people were serious, and that there was a legitimate chance school would actually be canceled.  After a half-day back following a two-week long winter break, school was going to be canceled because of the cold.

By 7PM on Monday night, it had been called–no school.  Last night, while we were eating dinner, the email came out saying there would be a 2-hour delay this morning. 

I saw many, many explanations–there are some kids who don’t have appropriate winter weather gear (coats, hats, gloves).  They’ll get frostbite standing at the bus stops.  The buses won’t start or will take much longer to warm up.  Walkers will freeze.  It’s icy.

But it’s winter.  And in the winter, it gets cold and weather conditions are not always ideal.  Shouldn’t we anticipate that, know that it’s coming, prepare for it, and teach our children to do the same? 

Absolutely there are kids who don’t have the right clothing for this type of cold.  That is sad and unfortunate.  It is reality.  We should (and the schools do) try to help those in need–each of my kids’ schools has had coat/winter gear drives this year.

Absolutely it will take the buses longer to get warmed up.  Get the buses started earlier.

Absolutely it will be cold on the way to school.  It. Is. Winter.  Teach your kids how to bundle up.  Teach them to watch for icy patches. 

I think, honestly, that it’s a shame and a travesty that schools were canceled this week. 

A terrible precedent has been set.  What will the district do if there’s an extended cold snap?  What if it gets really, really cold again for a whole week or more later this winter?  What if winter is ACTUALLY WINTERY???  Will school be canceled again and again?

Next, and more importantly to me, what are the lessons we give our kids here? 

Never do anything that might cause you discomfort.  

Don’t go outside unless the weather is perfect–65F and sunny.  In fact, don’t have any contact or interaction with Nature when the weather isn’t perfect.  

Don’t prepare for unusual or uncomfortable circumstances, just avoid them altogether.  

Never do anything unless conditions are ideal.

Maybe I’m reading too far into this.  Maybe people will think I’m overreacting.  Probably most kids were just excited about yet another day off school (I doubt most parents were in agreement after the longest winter break in the history of time). Hopefully there are extenuating circumstances or information to which I am not privy that influenced the decisions to close and delay school.  

But in the end, for me, it comes down to this–this was an opportunity to teach a lesson on carrying on when faced with a challenge, and it was an opportunity lost.

What a generation of wimps we are going to end up with if our children are never expected to face adversity, to experience discomfort, to adapt to less than ideal circumstances and overcome problems.

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2 thoughts on “Cold And School: Why I’m Mad

  1. D Whiting

    I was more than a little annoyed by this as well, but the kicker for me is the complete confusion about the reasons for the closure. Everyone seemed to have an “inside guy” who knew the “real” reason, yet each of those reasons I heard was nonsensical.

    The most grating of these were the concerns for the kids who don’t have sufficient winter gear. Yet these are the exact same kids who ***need*** the free and reduced price breakfast and lunch, because they don’t receive sufficient nutrition at home.

    They’re also the same kids whose parents are least likely to be able to just call in “cold” from work to take care of them.

    And I completely agree that a ridiculous precedent has been set. I think the only reason schools were delayed this morning was because the temperatures were identical to yesterday’s, and if they made a different decision that would amount to an admission that their thought process was completely absurd.

    Exhibit A being the fact that it was actually colder at the bus stops WITH the delay than without, due to the wind chill.

    I love my kids, and deep down I’m grateful to have the extra time with them (although that’s hard to remember coming right off of a very long Christmas break), but this whole episode has been an absurdity sandwich topped with extra hysteria.

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