OSCEOLA/MECOSTA CO. — While the snow may not have stuck to the ground this week, the temperature has started its decline for the winter season. With low temperatures and the inevitability of snow on the way, school officials remind families to make sure their students are dressed for the season.

For many area residents the lower temperatures and the sight of snow mean it is time to put away the shorts and T-shirts and break out the winter coats and boots. For students who walk to the bus stop or to school, or spend recess time outside, winter gear also might include snow pants, hats and gloves.

“Our guideline at school is if the ‘feels like’ temperature — the temperature and the wind chill — is 10 degrees or below, we don’t do outside recess,” said Evart Elementary School Principal Sarah Bailey. “If it is 11 degrees or above, we do outside recess.”

With students spending time outdoors in the cold and snow this winter, Bailey said it is important for pupils to have hats, coats and gloves. When the snow begins to stick to the ground, Bailey said students should bring their snow pants and boots.

“It is important that our kids stay warm and dry outside during the winter months,” said Doni Schumacker, Crossroads Charter Academy elementary dean of students. “Wearing layers of clothing helps trap the heat, and waterproof or water resistant outerwear is best. This would include coats and snow pants that are insulated inside, waterproof boots, gloves or mittens that have a nylon exterior and are not knit or cloth. We see many children every day whose fingers hurt because they have soaking wet gloves.

“If the temperature or windchill approaches zero degrees, it is important to cover skin, especially the face.”

Schumacker suggests students wear fleece neck warmers, mask hats or a balaclava (ski mask), to help keep small faces and necks warm while playing outside.

“Outdoor play is very important and we want our kids to be comfortable while they are out there,” said Morley Stanwood Elementary School Principal John Nawrot.

Nawrot tells his elementary students to watch the weather and talk to their parents about what they should wear to school.

“We are at the time of year when the weather can change drastically from the morning to the afternoon,” he said. “We are at the time of year when we need hats, coats and gloves.”