K-12 students enjoy day off at Nickelodeon Universe or at work - FOX 13 News

K-12 students enjoy day off at Nickelodeon Universe, with parents

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Even before the frigid dawn broke on Monday, parents knew their children wouldn't be heading to school -- and that meant a lot of moms and dads had to find some creative child care options.

Although Gov. Mark Dayton did not cancel classes for Tuesday, a lot of schools had already decided to make that call themselves by Monday night.

The students who spoke with Fox 9 News say they have no problem extending their winter break by another day. In fact, parents also didn't seem to have a gripe with the governor's decision -- but Tuesday could be a different story.

"I think the safety of the children is the top priority and should be the top priority," Jake Loesch, of Burnsville, said.

Although canceling class will be up to the superintendent of each individual school district, nearly 70 followed the state's three largest in saying they'll be keeping their doors closed due to the dangerous cold.

Yet, despite a day of historic cold and wind chills that bit at exposed skin, all was fun and games inside the Mall of America after Nickelodeon Universe announced they'd provide free rides all day on Monday to give families a warm place to chill out.

"We've gotten a little stir crazy," Minneapolis resident Tina Cook admitted. "It's been an extra cold winter, even aside from today."

After a two-week break from school, some parents were looking forward to sending their little one's back, but Mother Nature -- and Dayton -- had other plans, and the impromptu day off forced working parents to find a solution over the weekend.

"We're going to swap out so one of us will work and one of us will watch the kids in the morning, and then we'll switch," Monica Joanne Darn said.

Other parents decided to take the day off themselves.

"As a contractor, I don't want to work outside today anyway. So, the wife was fine to go to work and I get to hang out," Mike Vandekamp said.

Even though Minnesotans are familiar with snow days, few can remember the last time school as canceled due to the cold. That got at least one company thinking about a different approach to unexpected school closures, and workers were invited to bring their kids along.

"You could hear the sighs of relief on behalf of some of the families who knew they were going to be scrambling today," Kathy Tunheim, president of Tunheim Partners, told Fox 9 News. "It's always stressful for families."

Since Tunheim recently moved her agency into a new space designed for flexibility and creativity, it was a natural transition to use it as a day care too.

"We've got a great space here, and we thought, 'Why not?'" she said. "If we have employees that needed to get into the office today, take the stress off them and let them bring their kids in today."

Most parents had a weekend worth of time to make plans for Monday, but with many metro school districts joining the list that will remain closed on Tuesday too, those with kids are getting ready to face a new challenge.

"Tomorrow, we figure out a different plan," Loesch said. "We'll do day-by-day right now."

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