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Schools should be closed in freezing winter weather

Dear parents, winter is coming. If there’s one thing you can count on in the winter season, it’s bad weather. When weather is bad, schools are going to close.

You’d think that I would have escaped this school closing phenomenon as a parent in South Texas, but that’s not the case. South Texans are even more freaked out by anything cold and icy on the road and, in most cases, refuse to drive. I have also lived in snowy states like Colorado and Illinois. I know by now that school closings are a fact of life.

Now that I’m a parent, I see school closures from a different angle, other than, “Yippee! No school for me!” Considering that more than 700 schools have closed and delayed as a result of an arctic blast sweeping the nation, I get why parents are bitching and moaning. When schools close, kids rejoice, and parents sigh in frustration as they have to cash in more paid time off.

William Choslovsky of the Chicago Tribune is on the side of the frustrated parent. In his “Toughen up kids” post, he calls kids today “wimpy” for complaining about shivering at the bus stop for 10 minutes in minus eight degree weather.

Choslovsky says, “Just what lesson are we teaching our kids by closing schools? And please, spare me the word ‘safety.’ It is a complete crutch.” He adds, “Once upon a time, we looked for excuses to work hard and persevere. Today, however, it seems as if we search for opportunities to call it a day and shut down shop.”

Choslovsky’s “kids these days” rant isn’t lost on me, though I disagree completely. Remember, I too lived in Chicago during one particularly rough winter where I drove through six inches of snow on the highway to start my new job at a restaurant. I had several similar experiences living in Denver, where I was stranded at yet another restaurant after my car sunk into a snowbank during one of the worst blizzards the state had seen in 10 years.

But what about the parent who had to walk five miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways? Surely, today’s kids can handle a little cold weather? I would like to think we are smarter than previous generations — we are trying to do better by our kids. Just because kids once walked miles in the snow and drove in cars without seatbelts and airbags does not mean these practices are safe today.

Sending kids off to school in very cold weather could be a safety issue. It is irresponsible for schools to ask kids to wait for the bus or walk in subzero temperatures. The argument that shutting schools down teaches kids not to work hard is weak, at best. Just like adults, kids need balance, rest and a few mental health days off once in a blue moon.

A school closing for cold weather is not the end of the world. Parents can handle taking a few days off work or can arrange for backup childcare — I’ve done it myself many times before. Give these kids a break.

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