Too cool for school: Here’s how cold it must be for Wisconsin schools to cancel classes

Baby, it’s cold outside! But just how cold?

The early start to winter has already forced some school districts to call for late starts in the past couple of weeks, or even cancel class because of snow. And this week’s record-breaking cold temperatures have some wondering, “How cold is too cold for school?”

“Cold days” are something parents had to deal with at the start of 2019, and unlike snow days, cold days are more black and white than you might think.

For the majority of school administrators in south-central Wisconsin, the windchill has to hit 35 below to cancel classes. This morning, it’s below zero, but nowhere near that cold.

READ MORE: How Wisconsin schools decide when to call a ‘cold day’

When the windchill hits 30 to 40 below zero, it can cause frostbite in ten minutes or less. That’s why health experts and the National Weather Service recommend districts cancel classes at that point. Middleton-Cross Plains, Sun Prairie, Verona, and many rural districts all follow that precedent.

In 2017, the Madison Metropolitan District changed its class cancellation policy to windchills of -25 degrees after finding more students skip school on extremely cold days.

Most Wisconsin school districts build in an extra five or six days into their schedule for snow and cold days.

Snow days are much more challenging to gauge: Administrators have to consider how much snow fell, how clear the roads are, and whether sidewalks are cleared. They say it’s just part of living in Wisconsin!

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