Brutal cold prompts school delays and closings - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Brutal cold prompts school delays and closings

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

It was quite a cold start to the new year for students in western Massachusetts on Tuesday.

The wind chills were so bad that some schools were forced to delay class.

With students walking or waiting for the bus, some districts said they couldn't take any chances.  

The cold caused a challenge to schools this morning: to delay, not delay, or even cancel school altogether.

One superintendent said that that is the hardest decision he has to make.

"You can't win.  If you cancel school, people say you should've had school.  If you don't, people say you should've canceled school," said Gateway Regional School Superintendent David Hopson.

The decision for Gateway on Tuesday was a two hour delay.  Others, including Greenfield, Pioneer Valley, and Mohawk Trail did the same.

The biggest reason?  More time to warm buses and keep students out of the below zero wind chills. 

"Most of our students do come on the bus.  We have very few walkers locally here in Huntington," Hopson said.

Buses in this district cover a lot of ground.  Hundreds of students are picked up across six towns each morning.

Most stops are more than a mile apart, but drivers are told to give these kids extra time, especially with the chance of frostbite. 

"You'll see a bus stop and the driver will wait, and you kind of wonder what they are waiting for, and it's somebody running up the road because they were late or just saw the bus come and decided to stay warm for as long as they could," Hopson noted.

Parents like Cheryl Davidson were more than willing to drop off her daughter today.

"My daughter would've had to walk to the bus stop and just stand there and wait for the bus, and it's just way too cold," Hopson said.

Other schools in Holyoke and Longmeadow were forced to close today due to heating issues.  Those who toughed it out like Springfield had problems with their electric buses, leaving some students briefly out in the cold. 

Administrators urge students to dress appropriately as this bitter cold week wages on.

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