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Subzero cold cancels school

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On Monday, Kristi Johnson let her sons stay in their pajamas and play games in front of the fire while lunch was heating. The stay-at-home mom didn’t mind another day off of school on what should have been the first day back after Christmas vacation.

“I have seen too many kids struggle, when it wasn’t even this cold, to stay warm at the bus stop,” she said. “I can see the other side as well, but I think, with these temperatures, (being out) was a good idea.”

A wave of subzero temperatures dipped down from the arctic into the United States, bringing with it highs in the lower teens for the Mid-South this week. These are the coldest temperatures felt in nearly two decades.

During what is usually the early morning loading of buses, temperatures in the Mid-South were hovering at 10 degrees and the wind chill factor was -7 degrees. Tipton County Public Schools Director Dr. Buddy Bibb made the decision to cancel school on Monday and Tuesday.

“When we get into single-digits and the forecast is for chill factors to be less than zero, it’s dangerously cold for our students and also for our staff,” he said. “We have 9,000 students transported via buses, our high school students can drive and some students walk. We have to take all of that into consideration.”

Additionally, Bibb said 18 of the system’s 150 buses wouldn’t start this morning, which would have left an estimated 1,000 students standing outside waiting on late buses to arrive.

As with any weather-related closure, Bibb has heard his share of complaints about the closure, but most parents commenting about it on social media seem to agree with the decision.

Johnson said it feels so cold it’s like a knife going through you. Residents of the Mid-South aren't usually used to subzero temperatures as the average high in early January is 45 degrees.

“Of course, we were all anticipating snow and that didn’t happen,” she said, “but still, just due to the temperatures, for all of the ones that have to ride the bus and stand out there in the cold, it was a good decision. I don’t want to go out there and I’m an adult.”

It’s rare for a school system to close due to extreme temperatures, but Bibb said this was an exception.

“We have too many nice, pleasant days here in the Mid-South to put every one of our students at risk for days we have once every 15 or 20 years.”

Though schools will be closed Tuesday, Bibb expects students to return on Wednesday.

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