W MI schools close 3rd consecutive day, ‘common sense’ decision

Kent County

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — With wind chill temperatures dipping far below the zero mark this morning, hundreds of area schools have called off school for the third straight day. 

Air temperature, windchill, snow totals and ice build are enough to close schools by themselves. Compounded, these factors blend to create a dangerous mix that proves unsafe for students and staff alike. 

Grandville public schools superintendent Roger Bearup spoke with 24 Hour News 8, saying the decision to call off school isn’t always a numbers game, but rather a gut reaction.

“Common sense tells you the conditions that are outside with snowing and blowing, the windchill combination – are these things that are safe for kids,” Bearup said. “If not, then we air on the side of student safety and close for the day.”

In his time as superintendent, Bearup has never called off school three days in a row. In his discussions with other area supers, he believes they have entered uncharted territory. 

“You look at the weather outside and stop to realize that the governor has even declared a state of emergency,” Bearup said. “I know for a fact that hasn’t happened before and I can’t ever remember a time the schools were closed this long for weather.”

Colleges and universities have also called off classes this week. Grand Rapids Community College joined the mix cancelling classes Tuesday and Wednesday. Communications Director Dave Murray says the process for closing a college is different from a highschool, but safety remains the top priority.

“GRCC leaders look to see if the K-12 districts have made a decision to close, in part because we know that many of our staff and students have young children in those schools,” Murray said. “We want them to be able to make arrangements, if necessary.”

Unlike a traditional public school, colleges and universities cater to students that in some cases travel great distances to get to class.

“As a commuter campus, we know our students drive or take public transportation to get to class,” Murray said. “Because we have students from all over Kent and Ottawa counties, we know some students commute.”

Conditions don’t look to improve much throughout the week either. Storm Team 8 meteorologists believe windchills will remain below zero until Friday. Some schools may have little choice but to close for a fourth day and it’s only January. 

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