School leaders worried about potential impact of brutal cold

Radford City Schools considering canceling class

RADFORD, Va. – With the brutal cold expected in southwest Virginia Thursday and Friday, local experts are warning people to protect themselves and particularly their kids.

Health experts say children get cold much faster than adults.

"Anytime you're talking about when chills being below zero, it really worries me," Radford City Schools Superintendent Rob Graham said.

Graham is one of many local school leaders trying to decide whether it's going to be too cold for school this week.

"Some of our facilities are close to 60 years old. We have our primary school elementary (that) has a boiler that's close to 60 years old, so that keeps me up at night, wondering if that's going to be able to continue to operate in the way that it was meant to operate and keep the building warm," Graham said.

He's also worried about the impact on school buses, students and staff.

"It’s a concern for us when students have to either walk to a bus stop or even have to stand and wait at a bus stop," Graham said.

Local health experts say kids standing at bus stops in this brutal cold is a big concern.

"It really doesn't take any amount of time for these little guys, especially the ones without any body fat, you know, the active 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds who really don't have any body fat to insulate them, it really doesn't take any time at all for them to cool off and get too cold," Carilion Trauma outreach coordinator Sarah Beth Dinwiddie said.

If kids do have to go outside, Dinwiddie said parents and guardians should watch out for warning signs.

"That uncontrolled shivering would be a good sign, getting them out of the elements, warm fluids so that they're kind of rewarming their core," Dinwiddie said.

For these reasons, Graham said school officials could have to take an unprecedented step Thursday or Friday and cancel school just because of the cold.

"We can always make up a school day. We can't make up an injury or something tragic that happened to one of our students or staff," Graham said. 

Graham said they don't want kids coming to school if the windchill is below zero.

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