Schools in Massachusetts' three largest cities — Boston, Worcester and Springfield — canceled classes, saying they did not want children standing outside for extended periods of time waiting for buses.
“There has been an increase of covid with transportation personnel, which would result in buses running up to 30 minutes late," according to a tweet from the Worcester public schools. “The safety of our students and staff are always the focus of our decisions."
Low temperatures can result in frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes, according to the National Weather Service.
For parents who had to work, the YMCA of Central Massachusetts provided a safe, warm place for their children.
“Anytime there's school closures we open up our all-day programming so that parents can still continue to work and have the children at our location," President and CEO David Connell said.
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Syracuse, New York, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont, were among communities that also closed public schools. The closures came just a few days after many school closed because of snow Friday.
Some COVID-19 testing sites in New Hampshire and Massachusetts closed in response to the cold, and warming centers opened across the region for people who needed temporary shelter from the bitter temperatures. Rhode Island opened warming centers across the state and in Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu reminded residents that the city’s network of public libraries were open for people looking for a place to warm up.
Some people took the cold in stride.
“We live in the Northeast in winter — it goes with the territory," said Michael Davis as he walked his dog in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning.
Others struggled, despite new winter gear.
“I bought this really expensive coat on Amazon, and it's the best purchase I've ever made, but it's not enough," said Katie Cronin, who was also in Brooklyn.
The frigid cold was the likely cause of a water main break in downtown Boston that forced street closures and turned the area into an icy mess, a spokesperson for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission said.
The freezing temperatures were caused by a pocket of cold air descending from Canada, but the good news is that it is expected to be a short-lived cold spell, said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Norton, Massachusetts, office.aside">