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Chicago Public Schools Closed Tuesday Due to Extreme Cold

By DNAinfo Staff | January 6, 2014 2:10pm | Updated on January 6, 2014 3:46pm
 Temperatures were below zero throughout the day Monday.
Frozen in Chicago
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WEST LOOP — Chicago Public Schools will again be closed Tuesday, CPS boss Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced at a news conference Monday.

Schools were also closed Monday due to the blast of cold air that hit the city overnight, sending wind chills below 40 degrees. 

"This decision is in the best interest of our children and their families," Byrd-Bennett said Monday at a news conference at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. She denied that Chicago Teachers Union emails and tweets had any effect on her decision.

"This is some of the most extreme weather we've seen in Chicago for decades," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, adding that he agreed with the decision and found it "appropriate."

“The safety and well-being of our students is paramount,” Byrd-Bennett said in an earlier statement. “Given the dangerously cold temperatures and high winds, it is in the best interest of our students for schools to be closed on Monday.”

In a message sent in a robocall to parents Monday, officials said "it will be dangerous ... for children to be going to and from school." Officials said schools will likely reopen Wednesday, and said parents could get more information by calling 773-553-1000 or 773-553-3100.

Aside from schools, businesses and other city and county buildings have also been shuttered due to the cold.

The YMCA, usually a haven for kids and families seeking relief, announced Monday morning that all centers in the city and suburbs would be closed. All Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago will be closed as well, the organization announced.

Critics said keeping schools open would have put children at risk, though others said schools could be a haven for children from homes with substandard heat.

Emanuel, looking tanned at the news conference, had just returned from a vacation in Indonesia. "I was away with my family on holiday, and I was in regular contact" with city commissioners and his staff, he said.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy nodded knowingly at those comments.

Emanuel said he checked with department heads "multiple times on a daily basis ... so my family felt I wasn't much on vacation."

Emanuel cheered the city's "integrated response" to the snow and cold, adding, "Today it's doing good, but we can always do better."

The city's six community service centers and six regional senior centers will act as "warming centers," officials said Sunday. Extended hours will keep the centers open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Tuesday. City officials advised residents to call 311 for any details on warming centers, or to request a well-being check for neighbors.

One center — the Garfield Center at 10 S. Kedzie Ave. — will operate 24 hours.

CPS officials advised parents that Chicago Park District facilities would be open.