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Too Cold to Go Outside?

How cold does it have to be to keep kids inside for recess?

Depends on where you're from.

Teachers in Florida report that if it’s below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the kids stay indoors.  “Most of them don’t come dressed for cold,” explains one teacher

Snow Kids in International Falls, Minnesota, however, put on their boots and mittens and go outside when it’s 55 degrees colder than in Florida.  Falls Elementary School Principal Jerry Hilfer says, “If it’s 15 below, they go out.”

And in Northwest Ontario, the Kenora director of education for Catholic schools, says a temperature of minus 27 C (-17 F) “with or without chill factor” is used to determine if kids can go outside for playtime.  It’s a question of being safe from frostbite.

It’s a regional thing, of course.  Schools in the South don’t let kids go out for recess if the temperature is below 40.  In some Northern cities, 40 degrees in January means grilling outside in your shirtsleeves.

For me, the concern was always the wind and consequently the wind chill factor. Some kids in my low-income rural area never seemed to be dressed for winter.  No hats, no mittens or gloves, no boots.  The little kids’ sneakers would get wet in the snow while they were waiting for the bus and they’d sit in class with wet shoes and socks most of the day.  And, of course, no matter how cold it was, some of the high school kids still came to school in shorts and hoodies.

Every time I closed school early because of snow or the wind chill factor, I couldn’t help but notice the number of kids who were playing outside on the snow banks or sliding down the hills as I made my way home.  They were having a great time, hardly noticing the cold.

One of the best posts on Proteacher.net about winter weather and kids came from this New Jersey teacher:

A few years ago I had an ESOL class – all students from South America, Puerto Rico, etc.  One of them glanced up and saw snow and it was absolute pandemonium.  None of them had ever seen it before.  They all ran out the door -- there was no containing them -- and stood on the front step with their hands reaching for the sky trying to catch those snowflakes.  One of those moments you never forget.

So we’re nearly at the end of January.  Just one more hard month to go.  Or maybe one and a half.  I’m sticking with that.






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