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The Truth Behind Snow Days

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Winter weather is officially upon us.  With this weather comes the ‘polarizing’ topic of Snow Days. Our first weather related two-hour delay on Tuesday was a great example of how making a call to alter the school day in any way is on that brings cheers and jeers.

When I was a child I participated in all of the rituals that supposedly helped the snow day cause.  I wore my pajamas backwards.  I flushed ice cubes down the toilette.  I even opened the door to the refrigerator and danced the snow-day dance.  While I will not disclose the age at which I stopped wearing my pajamas backwards, I will share that my two boys still do the same things in an effort to spend a day outside in the snow each time inclement weather is in the forecast (and though they beg ferociously, their pleas do not weigh into the decision).

Calling off school is not an easy decision.  As a parent, I realize the inconvenience it causes many families with last-minute child care.  As a teacher, I know how a day off disrupts instruction. As the superintendent I realize the lost instructional time it causes.

The calling of a snow day

Is there a magic number of inches of snow needed to call school?  Is there a specific street that has to be impassable?  The answer to each of to each of these aforementioned questions is no.  The driving factor when calling school off is the safety of students.

When poor weather is forecasted the the district transportation supervisor and I begin driving the streets of Freedom, Nelson and Garrettsville between 4:00 and 5:30 AM. We look for how passable and slippery the streets are for a school bus and if the road crews have been able to keep up with the storm. I also call the village police chief.  He is out on the roads early and is usually alerted of any accidents or areas that may present a challenge for our buses.

Once the district streets have been assessed we meet back at the board office to examine the weather forecast.  We look to see if the weather will be improving, maintaining or worsening as the day goes on. If the roads are impassable but the forecast is promising and trucks are working on the roads we try to call a two-hour delay.  This will allow time for the roads to be cleared by the village and township crews.  If the roads are impassable and the forecast is poor we will likely call a snow day. Again, student safety is the driving factor when considering the cancellation of school. We will make every effort to make this decision by 6:00 AM and begin our notification procedures immediately.

Where to check for delays/closings

If you are a parent, you should make sure you have your email, text or voice notifications set up in Edline.  This is the first system we will use to notify you of any cancellation or delay.  If you need assistance setting this up, you should contact your building principal.

We will also notify the major television (3, 5, 8, 19 and 43) and radio stations (FM: 99.5, 105.7, 98.1, 106.5, 100.7, 102.9  AM: 1100, 640).

Finally, you can always check the district website (garfield.sparcc.org) Facebook page (facebook.com/jagschools) or Twitter feed (twitter.com/jagschools).

In closing, I will never discourage students from pajamas antics, ice cube tricks or special dances. While these strategies may help children sleep better knowing they have done their part, please know that the district is taking every precaution to ensure student safety on days when weather may impact their ride to school.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly at the office (330.527.4336) or on my cell (216.534.7413).

Go G-Men!