Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Our public school specifications of what calls a snow day.


How it works.

Since many of our families have written and called with questions about our procedures and have inquired about [our public schools] running a two-hour delay on days when schools are facing closure due to inclement weather, we offer this to help explain things a bit more.

[Our public schools] takes seriously the declaration of any day schools are closed and follows the required guidance provided by the Ohio Revised Code.

Declaring a so-called Calamity Day is guided by Ohio Revised Code 3317.01 (B), which provides Ohio school districts six reasons that drive such a decision: 
  •     disease epidemic
  •     hazardous weather conditions
  •     law enforcement emergencies
  •     inoperability of school buses or other equipment
  •     damage to a school building
  •     other temporary circumstances due to utility failure

When a calamity day is declared during the winter season, it is often called a snow day. Calling a snow day is always a difficult decision, and we do not make these decisions lightly.

The superintendent of our school district always bases the decision on the safety of our students and staff. Although there are no hard and fast rules when deciding to close school due to inclement weather, the following conditions are considered:
  •     the amount of snow on the ground
  •     the amount of snow PROJECTED to fall
  •     weather forecasts for the entire school day
  •     road conditions
  •     temperature
  •     wind chill
  •     ability of the City [employees] to plow and salt the streets
  •     conditions of school parking lots and sidewalks

[Our public schools] staff members travel around the city beginning at 1:30 a.m. of the school day when bad weather is expected.

We do this to assist in determining the conditions that may lead to the cancellation of classes.  
Our staff makes direct contact with the City - - - Snow and Ice Division as well as with - - - police and the county sheriff.

Of our 20,000 students, we provide roughly 5,000 with bus transportation in grades K-8 (only). This follows state of Ohio rules for who is eligible for transport.

The remainder of [our public school] students will usually choose to walk to school.

High-school-age students do not receive school bus transportation, but many may ride [the public bus service.]

Other Factors
Eighty-six per cent of our students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Many of our families are from low-income households who have no transportation. Some are even homeless. Even though we work with community organizations to provide free winter clothing for our families (and other necessary services), we know that many of our families still struggle getting children to school in harsh weather.

All of our parents reserve the right to keep their children home if they feel it is not safe to make the trek.

However, the district is required to report every student’s daily attendance to the Ohio Department of Education. State ODE requirements allow students to have only certain reasons to be excused from class when schools are open. These reporting requirements are strict and adhered to for all students attending [our public schools].

Students missing school due to weather only will not be considered to have an excused absence by ODE.

Many have asked why we do not yet pursue employing a two-hour delay. Reasons for this are many, but the most prevalent would be the mere logistics of it. [Our public schools] run 350 bus routes every day, using more than 60 buses to transport students to most of our 54 schools and 50 other private, charter and parochial schools in Northeast Ohio.

Many of our own schools have different start times as do the other schools we serve with transportation. Some charter schools do not begin until 9 a.m. A delay would put their start time at 11 in the morning. With a recess at the end of the day just a few hours beyond that, the wisdom of utilizing this method is questionable.

As always, we continue to explore ways to improve how this all works, within the boundaries of state rules and regulations.

- -  This information was taken from an e-mail sent to me by our public schools. 

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