Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Two Cents on Weather Related School Delays and Closings

I often wonder who enjoys a delay or school closing more; students or teachers? It's always nice to get an extra hour or two in the morning-- even a full day occasionally. In the end, we know we'll have to make that day up but who couldn't use it in the middle of a busy week every now and then?

That aside, however, a weather related delay or closing really only means one thing. Safety. And I used to think that is what it meant to everyone. Now these delays and closings seem to prioritize safety less and less and are based more upon whether or not someone is going to be inconvenienced by them.

I'm not in the position of someone who determines whether or not school should be delayed or closed. I never have been, nor do I ever have any intentions to be. I am sure it is a very daunting decision to make. What if I call off school for forecasted snow and a single flake doesn't drop? What if I call for a two hour delay, and the snow starts around 8am, instead of the usual 6am commute time? However, I'd rather ask families and teachers for forgiveness following a bad call that prioritized safety of students, staff, and bus drivers, than to have to apologize to families because their child's bus ran off the road.

If you haven't figured it out by now, this blog post was clearly fueled by a bad call on my district's behalf recently. Not a bad call that prioritized safety, but a bad call that prioritized inconveniencing others.

I understand that there are many, many, people whose jobs don't delay for weather, and they are still expected to arrive to work on time. I understand that many families have no choice but to leave for work in the morning before their child even boards their school bus. But as part of having a child, comes the responsibility to be prepared for school being canceled. And having a back up plan if school is canceled at the last minute.

I debated with myself about the outlet I wanted to use to express my frustrations on this topic. That day I was ready to contact my district office with complaints about the deplorable road conditions on my morning commute. I thought I'd take to Facebook with an ever long status update explaining my frustrations with their decision, and how delays and closings are no longer prioritized by safety. Nothing good ever comes from those types of status updates and that's when I decided I'd take to my blog. In the end it's still a social media escape, but my blog gives me the opportunity to further explain myself and do so to an understanding audience. Nothing erks me more than the comments about how school shouldn't be closed for the cold, or this amount of snow is nothing, etc.

Delays are in place for a reason. Safety. And while they're probably mis-called more often than not, they're still important. So the next person who tells you it's crazy to delay or call off school because of the wind chill; be sure to remind them of the child who may not own a heavy coat. Or the child who has to walk to school. Or even their own child, whose school bus might break down due to the cold temps, leaving their child sitting in a cold bus on the side of the road.

Or the next time someone tells you school shouldn't have been delayed or closed for just a little bit of snow, remind them why your area typically closes for a little bit of snow. If your area isn't used to snow, chances are people are not used to driving in it either. 

What about fog delays? If someone tells you those are silly too, be sure to ask them how well they can see whats on the side of the road during heavy fog. Can they see children standing and waiting at their bus stop? What if it's so early it's still dark out? And yes, kids ARE waiting for the school bus that early. 

I expect my school district to make a bad call the next time there is inclement weather forecasted. This call will be to please all of the parents who called to complain the first time, when the delay or closing should have been present. And this time- no snow will fall.



Lindsey said...

Kids waiting for a bus is very different than adults driving to work. You can preheat your car and walk straight to it. Kids wait outside in the dark with hopes the buys will be on time. We had ice yesterday and I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon. If it was just me, I would have still gone, but I didn't want to put my kids in danger being on the road when it wasn't necessary.

The Coffer Family said...

I am going to have to agree with you completely! When I had children, I had to accept the job completely and make it my main job. I am the one who had to have a job that gave me a little flexibility to be a little late some days or call in sick when my girls are sick. I have a family member who is exactly like the people you mentioned who complain about school being closed, I really have to skip over her ranting posts because she is obnoxious about it. Thanks for writing this blog post.

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