The wind chills forced hundreds of schools to close for the day Wednesday, including Sioux Falls, which rarely happens. But the bitterly cold temperatures didn't keep all students from venturing outside.
The point is to keep kids inside and safe when it's dangerously cold outside, but many kids didn't stay inside where it's warm. Quite a few ended up at the Empire Mall.
Students travel in groups around the mall, some shopping, but most are just excited to have a snow day.
"I had butterflies in my stomach because we never get them in Sioux Falls," said Roosevelt freshman Veronica Honkamp.
Veronica Honkamp and her friends say it's become a tradition to hit the mall when school is called off. Other students say they're here because they got bored at home. But many of the kids aren't wearing coats, or even long pants.
"All winter I've been wearing shorts. I don't like jeans," Mike McKenzie, a sophomore at Lincoln High School said. "My legs don't get that cold, so it's really about wearing a coat."
District officials know that many kids don't dress properly for the weather. On days like Wednesday where wind chills dipped to nearly minus-30, even the ones who do bundle up are at risk for exposure.
"It's a combination of the temperature and the wind speed that would yield that kind of temperature band where exposed flesh would freeze in 5-10 minutes," said Bill Smith with the Sioux Falls School District.
Cold enough to call off school, but not cold enough to keep many kids at home.
“If I were at home, I'd probably be playing Xbox," McKenzie said.
"They think we're just going to stay home but we never do," Honkamp said.
District officials say a late start didn't make sense Wednesday, because conditions didn't start to improve until after noon, and by then the school day was almost over.
We did also check local parks and skating rinks, which were empty even Wednesday afternoon.