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.”
St. Louis Park will be closing the city's warming houses from Sunday through Tuesday due to the expected temperature drop.
Dayton announced the decision to close schools 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.
“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.