- Associated Press - Friday, January 9, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Lincoln school superintendent has changed his approach on declaring snow days because of inclement weather, something that thousands of his district’s students probably appreciate.

Steve Joel told staffers and parents when he started in 2010 that he wouldn’t call a snow day based solely on forecasts, according to the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1FyYU5v ). But that’s what he and other Nebraska superintendents did when calling off Wednesday’s classes, because weather experts warned Tuesday of dangerously low wind chills ahead.

They were right. National Weather Service records say the wind chill hit 20 below zero about 7 a.m. Wednesday, due to 30 mph winds and a thermometer reading of 4 above.

Since he left the superintendent’s post in Grand Island to come to Lincoln, Joel said he realized that a surprising number of his students walk to school.

The district doesn’t track how many of its more than 39,000 students regularly walk, district spokesman Zachary Baehr said Friday, but noted most live close enough to their schools that they don’t need buses or rides from their parents.

And, said Joel, more than 40 percent of the district students come from poorer families, so they may not have the right clothing to handle wind chills that can lead to frostbite on uncovered skin within a few minutes.

“We have a lot of kids without gloves,” he said.

Joel also said he thinks meteorologists and their equipment have become more accurate and thus less likely to errantly predict big snowstorms that don’t deliver.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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