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Due to the bitter cold temperatures, Chicago Public Schools were closed for classes. But they were open to parents who might want to bring their children there. As of 10 am, according to Principal Nate Manaen, Ravenswood Elementary on the North side did not have any children brought in on January 7, 2015. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

Chicago area residents braving freezing temps

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When it was announced Tuesday night that Chicago Public School classes would be cancelled Wednesday, “What am I going to do with my kids?” echoed through the minds of thousands of parents.

Denise Sebanc, a Lincoln Square librarian with two children — Dylan, 8, and Harper, 5 — improvised with an “impromptu bring-your-kids-to-work day.”

This way, Dylan, who wants to be a storm chaser when he grows up, can continue working on a book he’s writing about tornadoes.

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Denise Sebanc watches over her kids, Harper and Dylan, as they enjoy a day off from school at Sulzer Regional Library. Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times Media

The glass-is-half-full method can also be applied to today’s weather stats.

Although it’s zero degrees in Chicago and will be negative six by Wednesday evening with a minus 35 degree wind chill — things could be worse.

On this day last year it was minus 16 with a windchill 40 below zero.

“Last year was so awful that dealing with this might seem less awful” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Ricky Castro, who added that temps will seesaw a few degrees above and below zero for the next several days.

The notion didn’t compute Wednesday morning for one man standing on a CTA L platform in Logan Square.

“It’s too cold to think,” he said. It was five degrees on the train platform, where several people opted not to wear hats. Steps away, under a CTA heat lamp, a thermometer read 17.

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Bear (right) and Chloe wore boots as they walked outside Lincoln Park Zoo with their owner Julia Norwich, 52, in single-digit temperatures on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 7, 2015. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

CTA trains did not experience any major delays Wednesday morning and only minor accidents were reported on Chicago’s highways.

The AAA Chicago Motor Club was answering a high volume of calls for dead batteries and flat tires, but was not overwhelmed, according to spokeswoman Beth Mosher. She attributed the manageable workload to less drivers due to cancelled school classes.

As of 3:30 pm, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was racking up the largest number of delays in the nation, at 724, and the second-largest number of cancellations, at 91.

O’Hare was being affected, at least in part, by rough weather in New York, where flights into LaGuardia and JFK airports were being delayed 1 to almost 2 hours.

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Sharon Mehalek, 62, of Burr Ridge, walked down Randolph Street to work in the Loop in single-digit temperatures and a wind chill of 17 below on Wednesday afternoon. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

At American Airlines, spokeswoman Leslie Scott said the airline also was de-icing planes that were arriving at O’Hare from cold climates, and dealing with the operational challenges that extreme cold can cause with ground service equipment, such as tugs that pull planes and baggage carts.

“We are trouble shooting those things as they come up but the cold is definitely a challenge,” said Scott. “That said, we are running better today than yesterday or Monday.”

The extreme weather spurred a flurry of news releases from government agencies urging safety and caution, including one from the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests staying inside and bringing your pets indoors, too.

Contributing: Rosalind Rossi

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Chicagoans braved temperatures that hovered around 3 degrees and a wind chill of 17 below as they walked through the Loop on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 7, 2015. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

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Terry Cases, 45, of Norridge, braved single-digit temperatures and a wind chill of 17 below as she walked down State Street. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

Commuters try to stay warm as they wait for a train on an L platform during the morning rush.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Commuters try to stay warm as they wait for a train on an L platform during the early morning rush while temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit on January 7, 2015. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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A pair of onlookers take pictures as waves crash at North Avenue Beach Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. ((AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

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Ice builds up along North Avenue Pier while temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit on January 7, 2015. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Parks and forestry worker Mike Stott prepares the Cornish Park ice skating rink in downtown Algonquin, which is scheduled to open this weekend. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

Chicagoans braved temperatures that hovered around 3 degrees and a wind chill of 17 below as they walked through the Loop on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 7, 2015. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

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