Cold closes schools

First Posted: 1/7/2015

LIMA — Schools better have their blizzard bags ready.

Lima City Schools, for example, will have them by the end of the week after they’re approved during the district’s Thursday night board meeting. Just in time, considering the district had its first closing because of wind chill on Wednesday.

The district was the only to close while most neighboring counties opted for two-hour delays. Others, such as Delphos, decided to stay open and start at their regular time.

Jill Ackerman, Lima City School Superintendent, said the decision is a difficult one.

She and the director of plant operations team up to make the decision by factoring road conditions, temperature and wind chill. They try to make the call to delay by 6:15 a.m. and, if cancelling, by 8:15. They only consider those options the night before if dangerous weather is almost guaranteed.

“We have a lot of kids who walk to school, especially since the high school doesn’t have buses,” Ackerman said. “So when a warning is issued and we know that a short amount of time will harm exposed skin, that’s when we really talk about doing something.”

Columbus Grove City School District, on the other hand, doesn’t have blizzard bags or as many walkers because most schools are nestled in residential areas equipped with busing. Usually, fog presents more of an issue than snow or ice does. Still, cold temperatures and wind chill are a concern. As a result, the district had a two-hour delay Wednesday.

Like Lima schools, Superintendent Nick Verhoff and his co-workers are out on the roads early, assessing road conditions themselves while consulting with the city. Columbus Grove’s morning deadline, however, is measured by the bus schedule, forced to make a decision before the first bus leaves the lot.

“There’s no magic number,” Verhoff said. “It all depends.”

Either way, districts are holding on tight to their five allotted calamity days, hoping to avoid the need for blizzard bags. So even if it is cold outside, Ackerman said parents should have coats, scarves and hats at the ready.

“Safety is always the main concern,” she said.

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