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School staying open during the polar vortex? Try an online petition

Facing dangerously cold temperatures, students are turning to online petitions to call for school closures.

School staying open during the polar vortex? Try an online petition
[Photo: Essow Kedelina/Pexels]

It’s either a sign of the times or just a sign that it’s too damn cold outside, but thousands of students across the Midwest and Northeast are turning to the power of online petitions in hopes of convincing government and school officials to close their schools for the day.

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In the wake of the so-called polar vortex weather phenomenon, much of the country will be gripped by sub-zero temperatures and dangerous wind chills this week. In Chicago, for instance, temperatures had already fallen to a record low of minus 19 degrees by 4 a.m. this morning, according to the Chicago Tribune.

As of this morning, petition website Change.org was hosting more than a dozen petitions from various school districts and individual schools—some launched by parents and others by the students themselves—basically begging their local officials to let students stay home. One petition is calling for school closures in all of North Dakota. Others called for closures at Penn State, University of Missouri, University of Pittsburgh, and West Virginia University to name a few. Many of the petitions had thousands of signatures as of Wednesday morning.

The process and benchmark for school closures vary from state to state. The governors of some states, including North Dakota and Minnesota, have left it up to individual school districts whether to cancel classes, according to Fargo’s Inforum website.

Some schools do appear to be stepping up, if not closing their doors completely. At Penn State, most campuses were said they were either closed or letting students out early today. However, University of Missouri said it was operating under normal conditions in an alert updated this morning.

At least temperatures are expected to bounce back this weekend in many areas. In the meantime, if you’re looking to track the deadly cold, these maps will help you.

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About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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