Weather forecasters are predicting WNY will experience a major winter weather event later this week that will bring with it wind-chills that could be down to -40 degrees below zero.
Local school districts are all keeping a close eye on the forecasts, said Niagara Falls City Schools Superintendent Mark Laurrie.
"Immediately, the area superintendents begin texting each other to make sure we are all on the same page," said Laurrie.
However, the decision to close is a complex one, said the superintendent, because of NYS mandates for class days, needy children who get free meals in the schools and the child-care complications it can cause for parents.
Superintendent Laurrie said he plans to confer with experts, school administrators and review CDC recommendations in making a decision.
Niagara Falls City Schools hope to let parents knows if the schools will be open or closed by Tuesday night January 29th.
Buffalo Public Schools issued the following statement: "The most important defense against freezing weather involves a combination of caution and prevention.
As the National Weather Service issues weather advisories, we in the Buffalo Public Schools are monitoring the weather with student safety in mind. Gloves and boots with insulation are a must, a hat should be worn so that ears are covered, a heavy coat with several layers under it is best, and a scarf to cover one’s neck and face is important. Most schools have some form of winter weather gear to give students, and our Parent Centers have child and adult coats in various sizes through Operation Warm. Parent Centers can be reached by phone at the numbers listed on our website at buffaloschools.org. Buffalo Schools link (click here)
The decision of whether or not to close schools is based on New York State Department of Education guidance. When the National Weather Service issues wind chill advisories between -15 and -25 degrees, the Buffalo Public Schools will strongly consider closing.
Local media and our website will carry closing information. Because most of our students are walkers, either to the bus stop or their neighborhood school, the district takes special interest in their safety in relationship to the weather.
Stay tuned, and dress for the weather."
Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda UFSD also issued a statement concerning the coming artic weather: "Ken-Ton School District administrators pay close attention to forecasts throughout the winter, especially when severe weather is predicted which has the potential to create dangerous travel conditions for students and staff. There are many different factors that are considered including road conditions, wind chill, projected snowfall accumulations, the confidence of weather forecasts, and the unpredictability of Western New York weather which can vary significantly in a small area, change abruptly, and contradict forecasts.
The decision to close school would be based on information from multiple sources including weather forecasters, municipal highway departments, and transportation personnel. Ultimately, the decision would be made as soon as it is known with enough confidence that weather conditions are likely to create hazardous conditions for students, families, and staff.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter has more on how complex a decision it can be to close a school in the attached video clip.