School districts weather 'coldest day of winter,' thus far

Faced with what was billed as possibly the coldest day of winter on Jan. 7, Review and Bulletin area schools kept their doors open for the day while some nearby districts canceled school because of the cold.

With forecasted windchills of 35 degrees below zero, Minneapolis and Anoka-Hennepin schools canceled classes. St. Paul schools remained open, though reports say about half of the students in the district took the day off, attributable to a policy that allows students to stay home on an excused absence because of the cold weather.

Mounds View Public School District 621, Roseville Area Schools District 623 and St. Anthony-New Brighton School District 282, which all have similar cold weather excused absence policies, fared a bit better.

ISD 621

Mounds View Schools reported that about 1,400 of its 10,500 students were absent Jan. 7, about 13 percent of the student population.

The cold weather more than doubled the district's normal absence rate of 5 percent for this time of the year, a district spokesperson said, likely because many families saw the cold as a "free pass to stay home," so long as the absence was called in and attributed to the the cold.

Mounds View Schools recently updated its cold weather closure policy after shutting down schools six times last winter, clarifying that sustained windchills of 40 to 45 degrees below zero would be necessary to cancel class.

For more information on the district's cold weather policy, visit

ISD 623

Roseville Area Schools reported that about 1,350 of its 7,500 students were absent Jan. 7, about 18 percent of the student population. 

The district's normal daily absence rate is 3 percent, and it too has a policy allowing for excused absences in the event of extreme cold.

Unlike Mounds View, Roseville cites no specific windchill readings in its cold weather policies. 

"We don't put the actual temp out there because there are many factors that enter into the decision," Merrie Zakaras, executive assistant in the office of superintendent at Roseville, said. "It really is a discretionary call by the superintendent with input from many others including superintendents from surrounding districts."

"Our buses were all on time," Zakaras added. "And it really was business as usual for us, too."

For more information on the district's severe weather policy, visit

ISD 282

St. Anthony Schools reported that about 180 of its 1,800 students were absent Jan. 7, about 10 percent of the student population.

The district reported that half of those calling in absent at its elementary school blamed the weather on Jan. 7, with those students attending school the next day. 

ISD 282 has policies similar to those of ISD 623, in that it puts no specific temperature as a closing point. 

The district stated in a letter sent to parents earlier this winter that parents hold final judgment on school attendance on extremely cold days.

All three districts are using more weather resources to more accurately forecast local conditions. A January thaw is forecast for the end of this week.

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7824. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.

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