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UPDATE: Gov. Dayton Orders Public Schools Closed Monday Due to Cold

St. Michael-Albertville administrators were ready to announce a closure, regardless, with Monday’s high expected to be just -17 degrees Fahrenheit.

A map of Monday’s forecasted temperatures / Credit: National Weather Service
A map of Monday’s forecasted temperatures / Credit: National Weather Service

Students’ winter break will last a bit longer thanks to Gov. Mark Dayton’s decision Friday to order a rare statewide cancellation of public schools due to dangerously cold weather.

“The safety of Minnesota’s schoolchildren must be our first priority,” the announcement quoted Dayton. “I have made this decision to protect all our children from the dangerously cold temperatures now forecasted for next Monday. I encourage Minnesotans of all ages to exercise caution in these extreme weather conditions.”

Dayton announced the decision Friday so that schools and parents would have sufficient time to plan. The Minnesota Department of Education will be working with districts throughout the day to notify the public.

St. Michael-Albertville School District Superintendent James Behle said the district was ready to notify parents at the end of school Friday that there would be no school on Monday, anyway. 

"We were prepared to take that step, yes," Behle said. "Our main concern was for those kids that either walk to school or simply wait for a bus each morning. It's simply not safe for those kids, and you have to take that into account. So we were prepared to close on Monday." 

The district will be canceling after school activities such as Kids Play at each building, as well. Most co-curriculars are also canceled, with more word to come on that front. 

“Children's safety is always our top priority, and as a former superintendent, I know these are never easy calls,” the announcement quoted Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “I want to thank Governor Dayton for putting our kids’ safety first, and am relieved parents won't have to worry about sending their children out in the dangerous cold on Monday, but can instead keep them home, safe and warm."

Cold-related statewide school shutdowns are rare but not unheard of. Gov. Arne Carlson ordered closures in 1994, 1996 and 1997—when temperatures hit -26, -30 and -32 degrees, respectively, in the Twin Cities.

State law give the governor authority to “authorize the commissioner of education to alter school schedules, curtail school activities, or order schools closed.”

The National Weather Service predicts a low of -26 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday followed by a high of -17 degrees Monday.  Winds of 10 to 15 mph will further add to the bitter cold. Tuesday.

The New Year’s freeze is all the rougher since it follows a particularly icy December, the 18th coldest on record for the Twin Cities. The average temperature was just 12.4 degrees, or 7.3 degrees below normal, according to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

 


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