Weather Forecast


Other views: Schools should operate even in cold

Here’s is the question of the hour: Should the governor close schools when temperatures are bitter and wind chill is brutal?

And the answer?

0 Talk about it

Well, that depends, probably, on your age. Youngsters might welcome a day off. Parents perhaps not so much.

We learned this week that the answer also depends on where you live. East of the Red River, the answer is yes. West of the river, the answer is no.

The difference says a lot about the state of political thinking in the two states. That’s because the river is the state line, with Minnesota to the east and North Dakota to the west.

Minnesota leans to the interventionist side when it comes to government action. North Dakota leans in the other direction.

Gov. Mark Dayton closed Minnesota’s public schools by proclamation.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple left the decision up to local school officials.

Who’s right?

Well, the Grand Forks Herald is published west of the river, and Dalrymple’s answer seems better to us. Schools are a local concern, and local officials are closer to conditions. Surely they can be trusted to make a decision.

They’re more likely to know the sentiments of the parents in the school district, too.

Many parents want schools closed out of concern for the safety of their children. Others would rather have schools open despite the cold, because child care is in short supply and the free day means that some parents had to say home from work to care for children.

The safety of children is the big concern.

But here’s the problem: Two-earner families are now the norm, and so houses are often empty during school hours. A child in an empty house is in danger just as much as a child on a cold street.

Perhaps even more, because the impetus is to get in out of the cold.

The impetus in an empty house? It might lean toward mischief.

Only parents can balance this tension.

There is tension, of course, because work is an important part of every family’s existence.

It’s also important to businesses, which depend on their employees being at work.

Closing the schools often means missed work days.

Operating the schools even in cold weather is probably the least disruptive option.

Parents need to take responsibility for dressing their children appropriately and getting them to school safely.

Schools need to provide a warm, safe environment for learning.

And we all have to live with the cold.

Perhaps that’s the best reason not to close schools in cold weather.

It steals the chance to learn about living with the cold, an important lesson for anyone who expects to live on the Northern Plains in the winter.

And if conditions are so out of the ordinary that they pose a real threat to child safety, let local officials make the call.

The Grand Forks Herald’s Editorial Board formed this opinion.