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Record-setting cold prompts school delays, closings

By Liz Kilmer, Reporter, LKilmer@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 07 2014 04:32:26 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 07 2014 05:12:45 PM CST

The dangerous cold is affecting drivers and school schedules in Berks County.

MOUNT PENN, Pa. -

The bone-chilling temperatures caused many Berks County school districts to close or open late on Tuesday.

"I don't remember it being this cold for years," said Ceicel Thompson, who spoke to 69 News after walking his child to Mount Penn Elementary School in the Antietam District, where all schools were operating on a two-hour delay.

Thompson and many other parents told 69 News they would have preferred a full closure.

"It's really not any warmer now than it was two hours ago, so I don't really see the meaning of it," said Thompson.

"For the kids who don't have their parents at home and have to walk by themselves, it's pretty harsh on them," said Nancy Guevara, a mother in the district.

In Schuylkill Valley, where all students travel by bus, district superintendent Warren Mata opted to close the school for students and teaching staff.

Mata told 69 News the decision was based on several factors and influenced by discussion with surrounding superintendents.

A main concern, according to Mata, involved the district's school bus company, where officials believed the diesel fuel could freeze, resulting in start-up issues or late arrivals.

"I imagined that school child standing out on the corner, with the wind howling, -23 degree wind chill, and I said, 'I just can't take that risk,'" said Mata.

Mata told 69 News this was the first time in recent memory where he could recall a school closure due solely to temperature.

"Maybe 20 years ago we've had this?" said Mata.

Parents, too, agreed this was an uncommon occurrence.

"This is a first, and I've been here 18 years," said Thompson.