2018-01-19 / Community

Cape facilities fare well during extreme cold weather

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH – While the artic blast temperatures earlier this month were not welcomed by many individuals, they also caused a series of concerns for local schools, who worried about how to deal with students waiting for the bus in sub-zero temperatures, whether to allow for outdoor recess and how facilities were going to hold up after such cold.

Cape Elizabeth Facilities and Transportation Director Perry Schwarz said it has been “business as usual” and there have been no issues reported in Cape Elizabeth’s three schools, unlike in other districts, such as RSU 21(Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Arundel) and MSAD 60 (Noble), where classes in early January were canceled due to burst pipes and other facility issues.

While other school districts struggled with buses starting up in the chill, such as MSAD 6 (Bonny Eagle), it was not an issue in Cape Elizabeth.

“Bus pick-up has remained on its usual schedule and we have had no problems with buses starting,” Schwarz wrote in an email to the Sentry. “Depending on the situation, we have drivers come in early to warm buses and get them road ready.”

The cold temperatures have put a damper on outdoor recess, causing school leaders to cancel many of the daily recesses at Pond Cove School and Cape Elizabeth Middle School.

“We don’t send children out for recess when the temperature drops too low,” interim superintendent Howard Colter wrote in an email to the Sentry.

Pond Cove School Principal Jason Manjourides said the school takes “great care that our students and staff are comfortable and safe.”

Since there is no state or federal standard regarding holding, or not holding, outdoor recess during winter, the decision to do so is made by Cape Elizabeth school administration and health services on a case-by-case basis.

According to Pond Cove’s winter recess guidelines, “decisions for outdoor recess are based upon temperature, wind chill factor, the condition of the outdoor play surfaces and student clothing.” Weather.com actual temperature and “feels like temperature, which takes the wind chill into account, is used to make the decision.

“In an effort to keep all of the children at Pond Cove safe, students remain indoors when temperatures, including ‘feels-like temperatures’ with wind chills, are below 0 degrees Fahrenheit,” according to the guidelines.

The teaching staff, according to the document, “recognizes the importance of recess as an integral part of a student’s day at school. Research has proven that play and exercise during the school day helps students to focus better on their school work. If students are unable to access the outdoors, teachers incorporate movement into their indoor recess time.”

The guidelines stress how important it is for students to be prepared for winter weather by having a coat, hat gloves or mittens, boots and snow pants, since younger children lose body heat faster than older children and adults and may be less prone to know the dangers of exposure to the cold and how to prevent exposure.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

Return to top