To close, or not to close: That really is the question when wind chill temps dip so low

How does a school decide whether or not to close? Some days there's a blizzard and students are still making the trek to school; others, there’s nary a flake on the ground but the biting wind chill keeps everyone indoors.

LIVE list of closings/delays [News partner, News10NBC]

It is 1/30/19 - Come & get your learn on Braves Family. The real feel temps didn't reach the guidance threshold of -25 real feel. We are open 4 business. I will now turn my focus to extracurricular activities for after school today & whether or not we can have school tomorrow.

— Supt Farr (@BravesSupt) January 30, 2019

An alert has been issued for Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday for extreme cold and lake snow, with temperatures dropping into the single digits to below zero into late Wednesday. The wind chill is supposed to drop to -20 Wednesday and then a deeper freeze, -30, Thursday. Experts say frostbite can occur in as little as 15 minutes at these temperatures. Along with the brutal cold, some heavy snow is expected to develop off of Lake Erie.

Travel on the Thruway will most likely be affected. Four to eight inches of snow is possible in southern Orleans County, southwest Monroe County, and parts of Livingston County, with lesser amounts in metro Rochester, Wayne County, and the Finger Lakes region.

So what do these freezing temperatures mean for school districts? Currently, all districts in Ontario, Monroe and Wayne counties follow guidelines set by the health departments to close school when there is a wind chill of -25° F.

The Monroe County Health Department writes a letter to all local school superintendents with the department's recommendation on when schools should consider closing: "Frostbite can occur on exposed skin in about 30 minutes at wind chills of -25° F. At wind chills of -40° F, frostbite can affect exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes."

The letter continues by saying, "taking everything into consideration, to lessen the risk of cold injury to students, I recommend that you use a wind chill of about -25°F as the temperature to consider closing schools."

Jamie Farr, Superintendent of the Canandaigua City School District, said via email, “the Canandaigua City School District will consider closing should the sustained real feel temperature be -25 degrees or worse.

"We do not have a tremendous amount of walkers but we do have some,” Farr’s email continued. “For them and for the students who wait at group pick up spots or at the end of long driveways in the more rural areas, we are concerned for their safety therefore we will evaluate the situation each day and make the decision to close if it is warranted.”

When Messenger Post Media emailed the Victor Central School district, Sherri Lasky from the Office of School and Community Relations replied with "The 411 on Winter School Closures":

"What factors determine a winter weather closing at VCS? Road conditions; temperatures, including extreme wind chill factors; power outages; and weather radar and forecasts.

"How will I know if school is closed? A phone call will be made directly to your home, via a Blackboard Connect message from Superintendent Dawn Santiago-Marullo; the local media will alerted (YNN, WHEC-TV, WROC-TV, WOKR-TV, WHAM, Democrat and Chronicle, etc.); Facebook and Twitter messages will be posted; and an updated school status will be recorded on the school district’s main telephone switchboard. (This process applies not only to full day school closings, but also to two hour delays, early dismissals and evening cancellations.)

"School is closed and it’s not even snowing! Why? According to VCS Physician, Dr. Cynthia DiLaura Devore, extremely cold temperatures can impact a school closing. No one should be outside with unprotected skin with wind-chill factors in the range of -40° F. If there is such a thing as a medical reason for closure, this would be a probable medical indication for school closure and suspension of outdoor activity, including interscholastic outdoor sports, even cold weather sports. Injuries can occur sooner and at lower temperatures. As we are approaching wind chills of -25° F, it may be time to consider closure.

"Why Are You Starting School Two Hours Late? Why Not Just Close For The Entire Day? If we choose to open our doors two hours late it will be because roads and temperatures are expected to improve greatly later in the morning. Missing a few hours vs. an entire day benefits our children not only from a safety standpoint but an education one, too. With rigorous new
standards, we want to give our students all of the instruction time possible so they are prepared for their futures."

So be prepared for harsh winter weather conditions the next couple of days, bundle up, and use your best judgment.

Includes reporting from Messenger Post’s news partner, News 10NBC