As soon as the forecast starts calling for several inches of snow or ice, schoolchildren start hoping for a snow day. But how do they know if their hopes will come true?
Mary Kay Gallagher, superintendent of Northville Public Schools, sent out a letter to parents via email this week to shed some light on how a snow day is called.
"First and foremost, the safety and well‐being of our students, staff and families are paramount in any decision to close schools or dismiss school early once in session," she said in the letter. "When a 'snow day' is called it is done as early as possible in the morning (before 5:30 a.m.) after much deliberation among district officials who monitor road and building conditions throughout the night; in consultation with 14 other area school superintendents; and with expert advice from a national meteorologist who can help predict a storm’s path as much as 48 hours before it reaches our area."
Gallagher said the weather conditions and issues taken into consideration in closing schools due to inclement weather include:
- The amount of snowfall and its impact on road (including side roads and dirt roads) and parking lot conditions and the ability to safely transport students to school.
- The timing of a storm and the ability of local road crews and district personnel to clear roads and parking lots in time for the safe transport of students to school.
- Ice or freezing rain and its impact on road and parking lot conditions — as well as the potential for downed trees and power lines — and the ability to safely transport students to school.
- Dangerous temperatures or wind chills that carry a high risk for frostbite in a short period of time (10 minutes or less).
- Building problems caused by weather conditions such as loss of heat, power or water service.
Gallagher said school officials carefully weigh each of these factors to make a decision with student safety and learning in mind.
"We value instructional days and having students in school, and do not take a decision to close school lightly," she said.
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