Extreme cold causes closings and delays for many DC area school districts

The decision to close or to delay school can be a tough one to make. Our area has been taking a lot of heat for shutting down during winter weather.

For many districts in our area, the extreme cold weather is causing school closures and delays. (Click here for the full list of weather-related closings and delays)

We came to Loudoun County to find out the reasoning behind their decision to close on Friday.

It is the eighth snow day of the school year for these students in Loudoun County. But the brief burst of flurries in the area Thursday night had nothing to do with cancellation of classes Friday.

"We have the National Weather Service in Sterling," said Wayde Byard, spokesperson for Loudoun County Public Schools. "They sent us this handy [windchill chart]. They said between 6 and 7 [a.m.] tomorrow morning, it's going to -15 to -20 wind chill. That level of temperature, you have 20 to 30 minutes of exposure before you get exposed to frostbite, hypothermia."

The county is one of many local districts canceling school and Byard said a lot goes into the decision.

"We didn't want to chance students walking to school or waiting on a school bus for a long time and really expose them to severe weather," said Byard. "That was our call. The second factor was that bus fuel tends to freeze when you get below -5 degrees, which is about where the exact temperature tomorrow is going to be."

He added, "I talked to a friend today in Wisconsin. He is a superintendent there. And there guidelines are pretty much with what we are going by tomorrow."

Reaction from parents is mixed.

"It's okay, but it is so cold that I do feel relieved," said one parent. "I feel bad for little kids that have to wait at the bus stop."

"I'd like to see them in school," said another school parent we spoke with. "But I guess there are a lot of kids that have to walk. I guess there are a lot of people have to make that are tough."

Even though it is the county's eighth snow day this school year, they still have plenty to use so there should be no impact on spring or summer break.

The decision to close, delay or open schools has been such a hot topic that in neighboring Fairfax County, those kids launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #closeFCPS that was one of the top trending topics on Twitter.