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Green Country schools share factors that go into closures in the wake of freezing temperatures

Posted: 8:46 PM, Mar 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-04 23:27:38-05
Green Country schools evaluate cold weather safety

TULSA, Okla. — During the winter months, the classroom can be a safe haven for students.

But when temperatures drop below freezing, teachers said just getting to school is a challenge.

"Kids that have to stand at the bus stop and wait... a lot of them aren't fortunate enough to have a parent where they can sit in their warm car while they wait on the bus like some kids do. Some have to actually just have to stand outside and wait," said Blake Martin with Union Public Schools.

Staff at Union said more than 60 percent of their students ride the bus. Those who don't could be walking up to a mile and a half.

In Tulsa, there are secondary school students who walk up to three miles.

"For a little kid that might be walking for 15, 20 minutes that can expose them to potential frostbite. So we look at the weather research that is out there and the recommendations between the air temperature and the speed of the wind," TPS Chief Operations Officer Jorge Robles said.

Martin tells 2 Works for You she often lends her own coat to students on days where they come in wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.

"We roll up the sleeves and it's like a dress on them but it's better than nothing. We try to get stuff from the lost and found for kids to have something to wear if it's really cold that day and we do the best that we can to keep them safe," she said.

Both Union and Tulsa said they handle weather closures on a case by case basis. TPS begins tracking conditions about a week in advance, and Robles said a team of about ten people looks at everything from ground and air temperatures to precipitation and wind chill.

Martin said the biggest priority is student safety, especially at a time of year when children are more fragile.

"With the amount of sickness we already had we don't need kids coming with depleted immune systems or coming in at risk for getting anything else," she said.

Robles said in the event of a closure, the latest they would inform families is 5:30 in the morning.

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