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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton had closed all K-12 schools in the state on Monday because of the bitter cold, but he let individual districts make the call Tuesday. Most remained closed, but there was at least one exception — classes in Bemidji were slated to resume Tuesday. It’s rare for schools in Minnesota to close for back-to-back days because of bitter windchills. In 1994, Gov. Arne Carlson canceled classes statewide on Jan. 18. The next day, most school officials opted not to reopen.
On Monday, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius reiterated the desire to let local school officials make the call whether to resume classes on Tuesday. Shortly after she made that point, a slate of school closings was announced.
The closings caused panic for some working parents scrambling to find child care again.
Nurse Ryan Giacomini had Monday off so he could watch his 12- and 5-year-old sons, but said he’ll have to rely on family Tuesday. “I will probably lean on my dad who just retired,” said Giacomini of Roseville.
Even though finding last-minute child care can cause stress for parents, Giacomini said he doesn’t fault school officials.
“It’s dangerously cold to be standing at a bus stop. It doesn’t take long for those little ears and little fingers to get frostbite,” he said.
With school called off, parents and families seeking relief from the cold and cabin fever descended on Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe Monday for free rides.
That was a bonus for Yusuf Ahmed, who arrived with his four kids, learning soon after that school would be closed again Tuesday.
“I guess it will be another day at the mall,” he said. “It not fun for the adults.”
Hennepin County Medical Center has already had far more severe cases of frostbite — those that require hospital admission —than it does in an entire normal winter, said Dr. Ryan Fey, medical co-director at the HCMC burn center. One winter might see 25 to 30 admissions, but New Year’s Eve alone brought 15, including 10 severe cases.
“The biggest thing is to stay inside if you’re able to, or if you’re out in the elements for any reason, make sure you have warm clothing, gloves on your hands and a hat on your head,” he said. “And absolutely avoid alcohol if you’re going to be outside.”
Regions Hospital has treated 14 people with frostbite and eight people with hypothermia over the past two days. Frostbite patients filled all eight ICU beds in its burn center.
Outdoor work on the Twin Cities’ two new sports stadiums — for the Vikings in Minneapolis and the Saints in St. Paul — was called off as well Monday and Tuesday due to the chill.
“Apparently it’s not only hard on equipment, it’s hard on people, too,” said Joe Campbell, a spokesman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
Staff writers Tim Harlow and Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report. Shannon.email@example.com • 612-673-4804 firstname.lastname@example.org • 612-673-4469 email@example.com • 612-673-7646