Chicago Public Schools remained closed for the second day Tuesday because of extremely cold temperatures, officials announced
"Safety and security of our children is our No. 1 priority," schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said at a press conference Monday afternoon. "After careful evaluation of the current weather conditions and continued extremely low temperatures and high wind predicted for [Tuesday] we've made a determination that it is in the best interest of our students, and for their safety and security, that all schools will remain closed."
Building engineers remained at the schools to check boilers and make sure heating systems are working for when students return to class, Byrd-Bennett said.
Forecast models indicated Tuesday's high temperatures would be in the dangerous, sub-zero range. The last time O'Hare International Airport recorded a sub-zero high was Jan.15, 2009, with -1 degrees, according to National Weather Service meteorologists.
The all-time lowest high temp was -11 on Jan. 18, 1994, and Dec. 24, 1983.
School district officials said the decision to cancel classes for the second day came after it was determined conditions would be "dangerously cold for children to be going to and from school."
A day earlier CPS announced schools would close Monday despite an earlier decision to stay open. Officials said they re-evaluated the situation with city departments and determine canceling classes was in the "best interest of students."
For families seeking alternative youth programs and services, all Chicago Park District facilities were scheduled to be open during their normal operating hours, officials said.
Several parents expressed concerns over the possibility of sending their children to schools Monday.
"I know it's Chicago and we're cold, but I mean when you're talking polar temperatures... I have concerns," said parent Christina Klinger-Mcarthur. "My son doesn't have special clothing like what they wear in Antarctica."
District officials initially said classes would be held Monday despite the cold, a decision that drew fierce criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union.
"We expect nothing less when it comes to paying attention to the well-being of the children and teachers we serve,” Lewis said. “In light of the forecast, sending children to school in such dangerous weather conditions shouldn't even be an option for parents."
The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Schools announced that Catholic elementary schools in Cook and Lake counties will also be closed on Tuesday due to the cold weather conditions.