Small Town Life: One in a Series

So, Athena’s school has been canceled every day this week, twice because of cold and once (today) because of snow, and tomorrow and Friday the school day is going to be cut short at one o’clock because staff member at the school passed away and the family asked to have the viewing of the body at the school (which will happen on Thursday) and also the memorial service (which will happen on Friday). I really have no objection regarding either — I think it’s kind of poignant, actually — but it’s interesting that Athena won’t have a full day of school in an entire week. Life in a little town in the dead of winter.

28 Comments on “Small Town Life: One in a Series”

  1. It’s like a second Christmas, you know, except for the dead person.

    And you and Athena get an opportunity to do father daughter activities like sledding (or, “Daddy, pull the sled around the yard again,” as you’re wondering if you can go to PetSmarts – 45 minute drive – to get a harness for the dog to do this) and icicle dodging, snowball fights, snowmen, snow angels, snow snow snow snow.

  2. What temperatures have you been having that are cold enough to close school? I’ve never heard of a school being closed because of cold, unless it involved the heating system not working.

  3. Steve Buchheit:

    “And you and Athena get an opportunity to do father daughter activities like sledding”

    Theoretically, yes. In real life, however, Athena’s also been sick for the last three days.


    “What temperatures have you been having that are cold enough to close school?”

    It was at or below 0F, before we added in windchill. The school itself was fine; people were worried about kids walking to school.

  4. i envy athena. i wish they’d call off work on account of the cold in new jersey right now…

  5. I wish they’d cancel work because of cold. Yesterday it got to almost -30F… Monday it was around -50C when I left for work.

    I would have been more than happy to stay home and build a fort with couch cushions and blankets.

  6. Actually my high school in upstate NY, famous for never having winter closures no matter what, shut down for cold once – the only time they shut down in the ten years we lived in that district. It was -70 with the wind chill, and solidly negative even without.

  7. Due to the weather, and my daughter’s odd kindergarten schedule, she will miss ALL of her school days this week.

    And this is in the big city.

  8. it’s interesting that Athena won’t have a full day of school in an entire week. Life in a little town in the dead of winter.

    It’s also life in Seattle last November and December. My son missed something like 10 days of school those two months due to snow, ice and wind (the wind knocked out power in some areas for more than a week).

  9. I lived for that kind of thing as a child. Heck, even as an adult everytime the white stuff begins to fall I pray for it to be heavy enough to be able to take a ‘snow day’.

  10. 2 part reply:
    1) Austrian winter has shifted to the US and we are enjoying Calif like weather.

    It has only snowed in Vienna 3 or 4 times this winter. The Alps are kind of barren and it is..rather..odd. Last winter it snowed here endlessly and the Alps were glorious (and still are). Current temp in Vienna@20:50 is 6 degrees Celsius.

    2) Public viewing of dead school staff.

    I find that kind of odd. Of course it is up to the parents/child to decide if the student wants to actually view. But I think your daughter is about the same age as mine (11?). I am not sure the school district or even myself would find this acceptable. Perhaps there is more history between the staff member and the overall school community than I am aware of.

    2.5) I just received TGB today from the States. So thanks John for the creativity, and thanks for a place to express my thanks!


  11. I teach at a small town in South Dakota and come hell or high water we are open. There were a few days where I thought I could enjoy a snow day as well and catch up on some work, but no such luck. I think the main reason we never shut down is because we get out of school in mid-May as opposed to late May and the principal wants to go on a vacation. Just my thoughts.

  12. Both my parents are teachers, but they haven’t worked in the same district since I was born. Every week, we’d look at the weather and hope not only that it snowed a lot, but that it started around midnight– too late to prepare, early enough to have the roads bad when it came time to call it. A foot of snow starting at eight in the morning isn’t going to do more than an early-release day, and those aren’t nearly as good.

    We did luck out having teacher parents, though. Even if Mom still had to work, we had someone who didn’t have to take a sick day to stay home. Not everyone had it that easy.

  13. My sister manages the handicapped school buses for her county in NC (yes- the ‘short bus’ lady), and she pointed out that a lot of those diesel engines don’t like to turn over when it’s that cold, kind of like Wehrmacht vehicles in Russia, about 65 years ago.

    I took a half snow day a few weeks ago- I was in Mt. Pleasant (hardly every actually pleasant), MI and decided to avoid the ice and snow derby down to home in Detroit. It was much fun. Too bad there wasn’t a fire place.

  14. Our local superintendent gets a $1,000 bonus if there are no closings during the school year.

    Alas, it’s been forfeited. Two days off this week.

    I’ve never heard of a school closing for cold only. I went to high school in the blizzards of ’76 and ’77, and to college in the deep freezes and blizzards of ’78. I think we had snow days, but no cancellations due to the cold.

  15. Ray,

    I don’t think the viewing is intended for the school children….that’s why they’re going home at 1:00pm.

    The school is merely the venue because, presumably, it was an important part of the decedent’s life.

    (Although, I’ll admit I read it the way you did the first time around).

  16. The kids may come to the viewing/memorial service if they’d like (some of them, presumably, were close to the deceased staff member), but it’s not required.

  17. I can remember quite a few days in northern Minnesota when it hit -40 (C or F) or below, with wind chills below -100. Even with full thermals, you still didn’t want to stay out in that stuff for very long. I could certainly see the appropriateness of closing schools under these conditions or the really heavy snowfalls like the Chicago blizzard of ’67, where the roads simply became impassable. The question becomes, when do conditions become extreme enough that they pose an active hazard to kids versus the benefits of getting their regular classes? And though the kids may like having a few days off now, they may have to make them up with an extended school year later – and they won’t like that.

  18. Even if Athena’s been sick for the last few days, I hope you’ve been keeping her plied with supplemental essays and quizzes. If a child’s mind is not rigorously exercised, it turns to frivolities of lollipops and Smurfs. Just one missed week of school can drop her back down to a kindergarden level, or worse! (Thank the Graces she gets two half-days this week. The net loss is only about a classmonth.)

    Anyway, a quick 10-pager on the comparative merits of Gerald of Wales and Roger of Howden should bring her back up to speed. And don’t forget to have fun with it! As a reward she can try to improve her snowball accuracy. Get the grouping of three shots within a silver dollar, and she can keep it!

    God, I can’t wait to have kids.

  19. When I was in 8th grade, I only had three days of school in January. A blizzard ripped through central Pennsylvania and buried us under a few feet of snow and ice.

    It was a great year for sled riding.

  20. Schools around (and in) Madison, WI were closed for the cold the first two days this week. With a windchill at -35, I can see the reasoning, even though that was Tshirt weather when I was a kid in northern MN.

    The University still had class however, so I had to drag my 12 year old to “Numerical methods in Matlab”(CS412), “Combinatorial Optimization”(ISyE425) and “Power Electronics and Electromechanical Energy Conversion”(EE355).

    The poor kid was overjoyed when regular school resumed the next day. Heh.


  21. Snow days rock. I just had the first one of my college career last week. There was a winter storm warning and the entire city of Winston-Salem (and the state of North Carolina, I believe) shut down. The irony of it all? It barely even snowed, just rained hard the entire cold and dreary day. But there was no class.

  22. A few weeks ago, school let out early on Thursday and was closed Friday because of the annual Livestock Show here in town. And, of course, there were a couple days off back in November for the beginning of deer hunting season.

    Life in small town Texas.

  23. I’ve never heard of a school closing for cold only. I went to high school in the blizzards of ’76 and ’77, and to college in the deep freezes and blizzards of ’78. I think we had snow days, but no cancellations due to the cold.

    Cassie, I’m not sure where you were, but in Massachusetts, in the blizzard of ’78, the entire state was shut down for five days, and the eastern part of the state for ten days. Nothing moved except emergency vehicles, and no one went to school. But, as much snowfall as we had, and despite hurricane-force winds during the storm, it was never startlingly cold. Cold beyond the winter normal was never an issue, either in the “storm of the century”, or the “storm of the decade” that preceded it.

    The fact that there was no warm-up between the two storms was a problem, part of the reason the impact of the one-two punch was so bad, but even that wasn’t, in and of itself, unusual cold.

    The midwest gets much colder in the winter than the eastern coastal regions normally do.

  24. I remember in southeastern Idaho, school would not be canceled because of sheer volume of snow, but only if the wind was blowing. Difficult to travel when the roads drift closed faster than they can be cleared.

    I’ve heard of schools being closed due to cold because the diesel in the buses was frozen.

  25. School was closed where I grew up (southeast Pennsylvania) once because of the cold. We had a bunch of kids in the school district who lived out in the country. We had a bad cold snap, and one day the high was right around zero and it was really windy, so the wind chill was something like -20. The school decided they didn’t want kids waiting around outside to get the bus in that kind of weather. And really, in that part of PA, you’re just not used to having to prepare for subzero temps.

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