After citywide alerts about subzero temperatures, Chicago Public Schools announced that schools will remain open on Tuesday and close on Wednesday.
“Student safety is our top priority and the temperatures are expected to drop to extreme and dangerous levels on Wednesday, which could present a hazard for students,” said district CEO Janice Jackson.
Chicago temperatures are expected to plunge well below zero starting Tuesday evening. All after-school activities are canceled Tuesday.
Schools will close Wednesday; the district directed families struggling with adequate heat at home to Park District warming centers. A spokeswoman said the school district will notify parents by Wednesday afternoon about whether schools will open Thursday.
Friday is a scheduled in-service day for teachers and a non-attendance day for students, so families of some 361,000 students potentially could be without child care for the rest of the week.
The district’s announcement comes after seven inches of snow delayed school buses, and left families and educators battling snowdrifts and unplowed roads to deliver their children and get to work.
Charter networks, including Noble, Acero, and CICS, said they would all follow Chicago Public Schools’ lead for closing schools due to bad weather.
During brutal weather weeks, Chicago schools face a quandary: call off classes and force the majority low-income population they serve to scramble for child care, or tough it out amid snow and ice, frigid temperatures, and poor driving conditions that jeopardize safety of educators and families.
The district said it will also likely add another instructional day to the end of the year to make up for missed classroom time.
In November, the first large snowstorm of the school year caused power outages at about 20 schools in Chicago, including one elementary school where students had to be moved to another building.