Are School Districts Going Too Soft on Weather?

Kentucky governor Matt Bevin comments ignite debate

Eric Talbot

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When a polar vortex brought frigid weather to parts of America, many school districts closed. The decision made by many school superintendents seemed an obvious and logical one to many. However, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin recently made some remarks that seemed to criticize those decisions.

During an interview with WHAS radio, governor Bevin claimed: “We’re getting soft.” A further comment during the interview has the governor also claiming closing schools “sends messages to our young people that if life is hard you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere.” Bevin then added, “I do appreciate it’s better to err on the side of being safe.”

Naturally, the governor’s comments drew criticism. Senator Rand Paul’s advisor Doug Stafford took to Twitter to rebuke Bevin stating, “Oh hush. It will be 0 degrees with 20-30mph winds in places in KY tomorrow. Kids have to sit on bus stops and or walk a mile or more in that. No one wants to hear your old man stories about walking uphill both ways in that when you were a kid.”

During this deep freeze, temperatures in parts of the midwest dipped well below zero. Temperatures were described as life-threatening as wind chills only added to frigid weather. With the possibility of frostbite to set in quickly, there was a concern for kids that had to walk to school and/or lacked a lot of winter clothing.

When the decision to keep schools open or only delay is made, school officials often come under scrutiny.. Superintendent of schools for Waterbury, Connecticut Verna Ruffin made the call to delay school for two hours. Although the district quickly faced criticism on social media, Ruffin had her reasons. Families of three-fourths of the students in Waterbury were under the income threshold for free or reduced-price meals. Ruffin had concern for students who may be counting on schools for breakfast or lunch: “I am concerned about what happens if a child might be at home and there is no food,” she said. “That warm building for them might be the school.”