RICHMOND (WRIC)—Most school systems in Central Virginia are either delaying start times or cancelling classes altogether on Tuesday because of the record-breaking frigid temperatures.
Schools are delaying start times so that it's a bit warmer when kids wait for the bus outside, but there are other reasons, too.
Fourth grader Sarai Downes and her little sister, Sierra, don't mind that they get to go to school late on Tuesday.
"We have a two-hour delay tomorrow, so we come in at 10, 10:45," Sarai Downes said. "I was like, ‘Yay!' So excited."
"I have to bring the stuff that I already have … a hat, a warm jacket and gloves," Sierra Downes said.
The Downes sisters are among tens of thousands of local children who will have a shortened school day Tuesday, as school systems prepare for the blast of arctic air that's slamming the state.
"The two-hour delay will give us some time to make sure that all of our heating systems are working in our schools, to make sure that we have adequate transportation," said Felicia Cosby, a spokeswoman for Richmond Public Schools.
Chesterfield County Public Schools Spokesman Shawn Smith said, "In our school district we run about 500 buses and transport about 45,000 students each and every day to and from school, so that's a major concern for us."
One bus driver told ABC 8 News that it takes more than an hour to warm up her bus in the cold. As she's waiting for it to heat up Tuesday morning, workers at schools will check heaters and pipes to make sure they're functioning.
Last year, on a freezing winter day, heaters at Swansboro Elementary School in Richmond broke down, something no one wishes for on Tuesday.
"We try to make sure that our students are comfortable and that they are safe and secure, and that they are not exposed to harsh conditions unnecessarily," Cosby said.
Once children arrive at school on Tuesday, they'll likely be inside all day, as school systems are cancelling recess and holding indoor activities instead.
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