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Saturday
Jan042014

Record Low Temperatures Cause School Closures in Midwest

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- More than 800,000 Minnesota students will not be going to school on Monday after the governor decided to close public schools statewide due to a cold front with bone-chilling temperatures not seen in nearly a decade.

Gov. Mark Dayton made the decision to close all public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade on Friday afternoon, after temperatures were estimated to reach as low as minus 30 degrees and wind chills as low as minus 50 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

The decision has influenced other state officials across the Midwest to consider similar measures, with some already taking action.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has cancelled school for Milwaukee students on Monday, and is now considering closing schools statewide. Education officials in West Michigan have agreed to close schools if wind chills reach anywhere from minus 15 to minus 30, according to MLive.com. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s office said closures for the whole state aren’t likely, and that further decisions will be left up to the superintendents of each county, according to Valley News Live.

Gov. Dayton issued a statement on Friday saying that the main factor that prompted the statewide closures in Minnesota was student safety.

“I have made this decision to protect all our children from the dangerously cold temperatures now forecasted for next Monday,” Dayton said. “I encourage Minnesotans of all ages to exercise caution in these extreme weather conditions.”

The superintendent of one of Minnesota’s top-performing school districts, which oversees more than 3,000 students across four schools, said transportation is the biggest cause for concern in extreme weather, especially when it puts the safety of students in jeopardy.

“It’s the biggest thing that you worry about,” Mark Larson, superintendent of Mahtomedi School District, told ABC News. “It’s all about the students’ safety, getting them to school safely and getting them home safely.”

The last statewide school closure in Minnesota for freezing temperatures occurred in 1997, when former Gov. Arne Carlson closed schools as temperatures plunged to 32 below zero.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio