Cold, hard decisions
Over the last 16 years, Red Wing Supt. Karsten Anderson said he has never closed school in any one year as much as he has in the past month.
“By far, the most important factor in closing schools is student safety,” Anderson said.
Red Wing School District has canceled classes five days in January due to cold temperatures and wind chill readings during bus pick-up times. Gov. Mark Dayton mandated the first of those.
Anderson said the decisions were carefully made after reviewing the forecasts, checking decisions by other districts and contacting the bus contractor.
“Many students who live within walking distance or wait for late buses are not appropriately dressed for severe cold and hundreds of high school students drive themselves and others to school,” he said.
The district is currently reviewing options with the teachers union, administrative team and bus company for making up the missed time, Anderson said.
“We understand the burden this places on parents and local businesses, but it simply is not worth the risk to conduct school on days when our kids’ exposed skin can freeze within minutes,” Anderson said. “We do not take these closures lightly.”
The district is looking at converting a staff development day into a student day, eliminating early release for one or more days, or possibly adding instructional time to each student day, he said.
Red Wing was not alone in its quandary; districts across the state closed school on Monday and many districts closed again Tuesday while some other districts had late start times.
Anderson said parent feedback is welcome concerning options for making up lost time and for parents to call the district office at 651-385-4500 or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.