Students at Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake no longer will have a shortened outdoor recess in subzero weather, under an amended policy.
Executive Director Geoff Deigan announced the policy change in a note to parents, students and employees. Prairie Crossing reopened for classes Wednesday after shuttering at the start of the week due to frigid weather.
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Under the previous procedure formed about a year ago, students were restricted to 15 minutes of outdoor recess when the windchill factor was expected to fall to between 15 and 24 degrees below zero. Pupils were not allowed any outdoor activity when the wind chill exceeded minus 25.
Now, students won't have outdoor recess when the wind chill or air temperature are zero degrees or below. The restriction enacted Wednesday does not include students walking between school buildings or waiting in a carpool area.
"This year's unusual temperature swings, especially in early January, prompted discussions regarding the guidelines within the administration," Deigan told the Daily Herald. "Once the most recent cold spell arrived, we did hear inquiries, suggestions and a few complaints on the exactness of the guidelines. The school values the input of our parents, students and staff, and escalated our evaluation of the guidelines in order to address the procedures."
National Weather Service information will be used to determine if the students should be kept inside for recess. Deigan said that could change if an alternate weather source is found with data more specific to the Grayslake area.
Children in Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50 and Fremont Elementary District 79 in the Mundelein area may be sent at no extra cost to the 392-student-capacity Prairie Crossing, which determines enrollment by lottery. The charter school serves kindergarten through eighth grade with an environmentally focused curriculum.
Part of Prairie Crossing's curriculum involves outdoor education. Deigan said that concept won't change because of the new weather guidelines.
"We will continue using the outdoors for the educational opportunities that cold weather and snow provides for constructivist learning and our environmental curriculum," he said. "It is an integral part of our mission and of our charter."