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Governor closes public schools Monday, citing cold weather

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Public schools statewide will be closed Monday because of the forecasted dangerously cold weather.

Gov. Mark Dayton made the announcement early Friday in order to give school administrators, teachers and parents enough time to plan for the change.

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“The safety of Minnesota’s schoolchildren must be our first priority,” Dayton said. “I have made this decision to protect all our children from the dangerously cold temperatures now forecasted for next Monday.”

The National Weather Service predicts that most of the state will experience the coldest temperatures in a decade next Monday, with lows reaching 30 degrees below zero and wind chills predicted to reach as low as 50 below.

Brainerd Superintendent Steve Razidlo said he supports the governor’s decision.

“I think erring on the side of caution when temperatures could hit 50 below in some parts of Minnesota is warranted,” Razidlo said.

It’s the first time in more than a decade that local schools were shut because of a governor’s order.

“It’s a rarity when the governor cancels school,” Razidlo said.

Brainerd lakes area students had been expected to return Monday after their Christmas vacation.

It throws a hiccup in teacher’s planning, as they were expecting a five-day week, Razidlo said.

“The staff and students are resilient and they will pull off miracles like they usually do,” he said.

Along with the regular school day closing, all early childcare, extracurricular activities, sports and school-affiliated programs will be canceled Monday.

School officials will likely send out an automated call to remind parents of the closure.

It’s up to each school district as to whether or not that day will have to be made up. The Brainerd School Board will make that decision at a later date. The district already factored in a potential snow day of April 21, which could be used should the board decide to make Monday up.

The closure does not affect the school board meeting, which will still be conducted at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

School administration, clerical employees and custodial workers will still go to work Monday.

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius added, “Children’s safety is always our top priority, and as a former superintendent, I know these are never easy calls. I want to thank Gov. Dayton for putting our kids’ safety first, and am relieved parents won’t have to worry about sending their children out in the dangerous cold on Monday, but can instead keep them home, safe and warm.”

State law says the governor may “authorize the commissioner of education to alter school schedules, curtail school activities, or order schools closed.”

Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, said “The subzero temperatures may prevent our students from attending school, but they shouldn’t keep them from learning. We’re encouraging students to read for at least on hour Monday and catch up on their homework. If students need a new book, there’s time to visit a library this weekend.”

Razidlo said school officials are paying close attention to Tuesday forecasts to determine if school can finally return to normal.

“We need to get kids back into classrooms,” he said.

JESSICA LARSEN, staff writer, may be reached at jessica.larsen@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.

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