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Districts weigh closing schools to protect students, staff from dangerous wind chills

Number of walker, bus runs are factors when making the decision.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — While parts of Western New York may get plenty of lake effect snow, there's also the dangerous wind chill factor for the entire region. 

That's why some school districts are already considering closing schools to protect students and staff. 

With a potential wind chill of minus-20 to minus-30 for Wednesday and Thursday, many parents are worried about their kids going to or from school in that weather.

In Niagara Falls, it is strictly a cold event because they're not expected to be in the zone for that heavy lake-effect snow like Metro Buffalo and areas to the south. 

Niagara Falls School Superintendent Mark Laurrie says he'll decide sooner rather than later whether to close or not.

"We'll make that call (Tuesday) evening as opposed to waiting till 5 in the morning," he said. "The reason being is we wanna give parents the opportunity to prepare for child care. And if we can make a decision at 8 o'clock at night ... it's just as good as 5 in the morning."  

Buffalo school officials say they're monitoring the weather with no decision time estimate. They are so far just urging students to dress warmly with hats and gloves. 

The Buffalo Public Schools cite State Department of Education guidance with wind chill advisories of minus-15 to minus-25 to strongly consider closing.

2 on Your Side also asked the State Department of Education about any policy on wind chill but we were only told that district superintendents make the final call. 

Superintendent Laurrie also cites the Centers for Disease Control policy. And with possible frostbite on exposed skin within 10 minutes, there is a major concern for students walking to school to waiting at a bus stop.

Laurrie added, "We're also having to consider the temperature. Is it sustained, is it worth delaying, is it going to change by 9:00 or 9:30, or is it a continuous cold?"

And back to parents. Laurrie points out they have a say in the Niagara Falls district.

"The parent has the final judgment in my district, at least if we remain open ... so we're gonna try to make the best decision in a timely manner that keeps the safety of kids at heart," he said.

Laurrie added they can email the district to explain the weather or unsafe conditions such as the intense cold or snow-covered roads and sidewalks prompted their decision to keep a child home. 



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