Most school districts in the Charlotte region will open late Tuesday because of brutal, uncharacteristically cold temperatures, officials said Monday.
Lows are expected between 5 and 10 degrees Tuesday morning in the Charlotte area as an arctic air mass spreads across the area.
“Our students’ safety is our top priority,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison said. “We do not want students waiting at bus stops in near-zero temperatures.”
CMS Associate Superintendent Guy Chamberlain called the decision “fairly simple,” given that temperatures will be around 9 degrees at 7 a.m., which is when the district’s buses make their first stops.
“With those temperatures, it’s unlikely the buses will start immediately,” he said. “So we anticipate it may take us two hours to get all the buses on the road.”
Since the area does not usually see such cold temperatures, the district does not use bus garages or block heaters for its fleet of a little less than 1,000 buses, Chamberlain added. That’s why the district may find it difficult to start some buses that have remained out in the cold all night.
Chamberlain said it was the first time in his 12 years with the district that he could remember the district delaying school because of cold weather and not precipitation, such as snow.
“But I think it makes sense,” he said. “You don’t want kids out on a dark bus stop with a wind chill factor of 4 degrees.”
The district even considered closing school for the day but decided against it in favor of reserving such days for a possible snowstorm later in winter. Otherwise, he said, the district would be at risk of modifying the school calendar if it doesn’t plan well.
Chamberlain said the custodial staff members will arrive early at schools Tuesday to check for any problems caused by the cold. The district’s heating and air conditioning staff also will be on standby.
“Some of the older schools, we might see some pipes break,” he said. “We’ll just have to be on our toes.”
Chamberlain said the district will decide Tuesday whether to make any changes to Wednesday’s school schedule.
Staff reporter Steve Lyttle contributed.
Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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