snow-day-guidelineGarrettsville – While we have avoided it for most of the season, winter weather is officially upon us. With this weather comes the ‘polarizing’ topic of Snow Days. Each year this is a decision we don’t look forward to making. A snowy forecast means a sleepless night is certain. The festivities typically begin around 3am and are very different than what I remember about snow days as a child….

When I was a kid I participated in all of the rituals that supposedly helped my superintendent make that most favorable call. I wore my pajamas backwards. I flushed ice cubes down the toilet. I even opened the door to the refrigerator and danced the snowdaydance….something I still watch my two boys do today.

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 lessons that have been planned. 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 these aforementioned questions is “No”. The driving factor when calling school off is the safety of students.

When poor weather is forecast 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.

We also start calling members of our “snow team” to get a clearer picture before we make a call.

I will call the village police chief and township road crews. They are all out on the roads early and are usually alerted to 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 progresses. 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).

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

Makeup Days

The State has defined a minimum number of hours each school must be in session each year (910 hours for K-6 and 1,001 hours for grades 7 – 12).

While we exceed those  number by over 15 days, our negotiated agreements state that we will make up any time missed beyond five (5) days. These days will be added to the end of the school year. The way this winter has gone, let’s continue to hope we do not have to use any snow days!

In closing, I will never discourage students from pajama 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 GMen!