No snow day — or bomb cyclone day — for Chicago Public Schools students.
“Schools will be open tomorrow,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez announced during a press conference Wednesday.
The district will hold a full day of instruction, but is canceling all after-school programs as a powerful winter storm is set to hit Chicago Thursday afternoon. Friday is a scheduled non-attendance day for students.
Though the district had previously hedged on a potential early dismissal, Martinez said standard start and end times would be in effect.
“It takes a lot for us to change our schedule because it's a big ask for families,” he said. “Many of our students count on their schools for more than education. They rely on us for meals, for warmth, adult supervision while parents and guardians are at work. ... We looked at the weather conditions and we felt that it was still safe enough for us to end at our normal times.”
Officials from various other city departments and agencies also outlined their preparations in advance of the storm, which is expected to deliver a dangerous combination of high winds, extremely cold temperatures and blowing snow, creating whiteout conditions.
Chicagoans were reminded to check on vulnerable neighbors and to be cautious — and patient — when traveling. Be sure to pack water, blankets and flashlight if driving, and keep a full tank of gas, said Rich Guidice, executive director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
For those heading out of town for the holiday, Indiana and Michigan are looking particularly hazardous for motorists, said Mike Bardou, of the Chicago office of the National Weather Service.
Though snow accumulation is only expected to be in the 2- to 4-inch range, those totals will be deceptive, with high winds capable of creating deep drifts as the snow is blown across highways and rural routes.
“Don;t pay attention to snow amounts as your decision-maker,” said Bardou. “We have a very dangerous situation.”
City officials urged residents to call 311 in the event of incidents such as burst water pipes, lack of heat in an apartment or need of transportation to a warming center.
Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]