Schools, Outdoor Workers Cope With Dangerous Temperatures

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

When temperatures get this low, it's not just unbearable to be outside, it's also dangerous.

Schools are taking precautions to keep students safe when they're supposed to be outside, while outside workers are battling the extreme conditions.

This time of year kids usually look forward to recess in winter weather.

"Sledding, building snowmans," Wacousta Elementary 6th grader Devin Gardella said.

But for now, snowmen are being built inside as art projects using colorful paper that's decorating the walls.

"It's the cold temperatures that we cannot take them outside, and it makes it really difficult, because these kids at this age need some time to run off on some energy, need a break from the school work," Wacousta Elementary Principal Christopher Groves said.

Groves said when it gets close to zero degrees, the kids have to be inside. So, like many schools in the area, it's inside recess until it gets a little warmer.

"They play games, Lego, contests for sit-up and push-ups, just to work off some energy," Groves said.

He admits the kids are getting a little stir crazy, but staff and parents are happy with the decision and glad to help. They're offering extra supervision, making sure kids bundle up, and answering tough questions.

"Every morning when they get off the bus, that's the first thing: 'Are we going to be outside for recess today?' Which kind of breaks your heart a little bit, but it's better for them to stay inside," Jen Powers, a school paraprofessional and mother of a student, said.

While the kids and adults are counting down the days until they can get back outside, other people have no choice but to be out in the conditions. Mail carriers, road workers, and roofers have to battle the elements.

"The cold can take your breath away," CS Roofing Inspector Bob Hoag said.

Hoag said these extreme temperatures might slow down work, but it rarely stops.

"Like working in the heat, you've got to know your limitations," Hoag said. "Once your fingers and toes start getting cold, you've got to go down, sit in the truck, warm up a little bit, get back out there and continue doing what you're doing."

Some roofing companies are postponing work if the windchill hits double digits below zero. Hoag always carries extra gloves and socks, and while his beard keeps him warm, there is one draw back.

"It actually forms ice crystals," Hoag said.

That's not something the kids have to worry about, but they come prepared.

"Snowpants, boots, coat, hat, gloves," 2nd grader Cameron Sandell said.

Some kids even wore their snowpants during inside recess, which will probably run through the week, if not longer.

Wacousta is also staggering times for kids to get on the bus, so they don't have to wait outside at all.


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