MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Students in 46 West Virginia counties were home from school again on Thursday as cold temperatures held fast in the Mountain State.
Parts of 50 counties were under a Wind Chill Advisory from the National Weather Service with temperatures parked in the single digits and teens and wind chills fell to below zero.
The school closures, because of the cold and snow, prompted a debate on MetroNews “Talkline” about whether schools are closed too often for weather.
“I graduated in 1976, so when I was in high school, when it snowed, every morning you could hear this audible concert of snow chains on the school buses,” said one caller. “Especially when it’s this cold, don’t endanger your children’s health,” said another, while a third caller weighed in, “Whether they call it off too much, I think they probably do.”
Dale Lee, West Virginia Education Association president, said a lot of factors are considered before decisions about school closures are made. “It’s probably the most difficult call that a superintendent has to make,” said Lee. “But, how do you have kids stand out as cold as it is?”
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said, after a brief period with temperatures above freezing this weekend, the extreme cold will return next week.
County schools systems were shut down in all 55 West Virginia counties on both Tuesday and Wednesday and many of the schools that did open Thursday were operating on delayed schedules.
Students in the counties affected by the Jan. 9 chemical leak on the Elk River that contaminated the water supply have missed nearly two weeks of school because of a combination of water problems, winter weather and the previously scheduled Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one having to make that decision on the calls,” said Lee. “You have to look at what’s best for the safety of the kids.”