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January 08, 2015


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Funny, I just finished a 2 day conference on SAFETY in healthcare. I think maybe the hospital environment is different than the general world, though. I have a lot more control over my patient's safety than they do and I should probably be pretty careful not to harm them.

We do close for cold sometimes and I think it's because we don't have busing, so we have kids who are driven by parents (no problems in cold) and walkers (possible problem). We also have a huge number of families from other (warm) countries who are being introduced to the cold for the first time and a large number of kids who get free lunches. I think it's assumed that the knowledge deficit on how to dress when it feels like -30 degrees + the potential of being unable to afford that coat = school liability.

I agree that it's less-than-ideal and probably unnecessary for the majority. The school has declared a snow day today (not for cold, really, but for the foot of snow that fell, and icy roads with salt that doesn't work in this cold) but I can guarantee my kids will be out playing in it and I'll take the dog for a walk.

We had a snow day followed by two two-hour delay days due to wind chill. The delays make sense because without them we have children standing in extreme cold in the dark on roads that are so cold the salt is not effective at melting the snow. Two hour delays are better for the system because they don't have to be made up at the end of the year, but of course for families with childcare issues and hourly wages it's still a hassle.

On the other end of the spectrum, I think about questions of safety and autonomy as I watch my mother and my in-laws age. I think at a certain age autonomy is significantly more important than individual safety, assuming the person is not endangering others, by driving a vehicle when they're no longer mentally or physically able to control it for example.

We had a two hour delay yesterday for cold. I harrumphed (though, still on my semester break, I appreciated the extra sleep). Today snow started falling in the wee hours of the morning and by school commute time the roads were awful, yet school opened on time. It WAS a dangerous drive on curvy, under-plowed roads; I saw a lot of cars fishtailing, and our drive time was significantly longer than usual. Even the school driveway was slick with piles of snow. I understand the reasoning behind delaying or closing school for extreme cold, but I think the delay should have been today instead.

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