The record low for today is 10 degrees, set in 1970, according to state climatologist Bill Murphey with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Forecasts had called for a low of 7 degrees this morning.
Marietta schools are closed for the second day in a row today although staff will report to work late at 10 a.m.
Cobb County District students were scheduled to return from winter break today, but the district has canceled all classes until further notice.
With temperatures expected to drop into the single digits this morning, school superintendents and transportation officials were watching the weather, and each other, to make a call about today’s classes.
Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa decided Monday at noon to keep the system’s 112 schools closed today in anticipation of record-cold temperatures.
The central offices will open today at 10 a.m., and teachers and administrators are expected to report to schools.
“This particular snap is very unusual,” Hinojosa said. This was the first time in 20 years he remembers canceling school so far in advance.
“Even though we are not going to have precipitation, we do not want our kids waiting out there for buses that may not crank up,” he said. “There were too many dangers.”
Mark Lindstrom, the director of transportation for Marietta City Schools, said he had been in close contact with Marietta’s Superintendent Emily Lembeck before she canceled school Monday.
When temperatures drop, Lindstrom said the diesel fuel that runs the city’s buses gels up, and makes it difficult to drive.
If the fuel thickens, Lindstrom said, it can move like Jell-O throughout the buses’ fuel lines and get into the engines, causing complications.
So while the grounds may be clear, Lindstrom said his main concern was what was happening in the bus lot.
If the buses won’t run correctly, the coordinated schedule of bus pickups and drop-offs is thrown off, leaving students standing outside in the cold.
“It’s the students standing at the bus stops that is the biggest concern,” he said.
School buses in colder climates, more accustomed to the colder temperatures, are equipped with heating units to keep the diesel fuel liquefied, Lindstrom said, something Georgia buses didn’t normally have a need for.
“We don’t do that in Georgia,” he said.
Lembeck said she was closely monitoring the weather forecast Monday afternoon, and was in communication with Lindstrom and Hinojosa.
“You try your best to make a decision that is rational and that minimizes risks to the well-being of our
students and employees,” Lembeck said.