FARMINGTON HILLS (WWJ) – While many schools close when the wind chills drop well below zero, one local school will be bundled up and open for business.

Administrators at the private Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills are refusing to cancel classes for the remainder of the year because of cold winter temperatures.

Steve Freedman, the head of the school, told WWJ’s Mike Campbell he recently sent letters to parents of the roughly 500 students, informing them of the policy.

“Unless it is so extraordinarily dangerous outside, in terms of the cold, even if 800 schools close because it’s cold and one begins to follow the other, we’re just not doing it,” he said. “There’s really no rational reason to close school for incredibly cold weather. And so, I can’t bring myself to do that anymore.”

Freedman said so far, he’s received a good response from parents. He said children in Fairbanks, Alaska go to school in worse weather conditions and even play outside for recess when it’s 20 degrees below zero. Freedman said kids here can do the same, especially since they should be bundled up for the weather conditions anyway.

“We live in Michigan. It’s not warm here in the winter and we can dress for the cold weather as well,” he said. “I’ll even be out there. I’ll have my winter coat on, welcoming the kids to school.”

Freedman said unlike public schools, which are governed by state law that requires districts to hold 170 days of classes with 1,098 total hours of class time, the Hillel Day School is free of those guidelines. While public districts are limited to six snow days per academic year before they’re required to make up instruction time, Freedman said his school has more flexibility.

“Our school is governed by the Jewish calendar, so we already allow for some time off with holidays and things like that,” he said. “Our days are typically longer than usual as it is, so we won’t make up snow days like the public schools do. The winter doesn’t make us crazy because we’re not obligated to make up the time.”


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