Three things to know about snow days and delays

GREENFIELD — It happens around this time ever year. An unexpected blast of winter weather results in a snow day or a delay to the start of classes.

For local school officials, making the call to cancel school or delay its start can be a tough one. And they know that regardless of their decision, some parent somewhere will find a reason to be angry.

This week, the Daily Reporter asked local superintendents what goes into declaring a two-hour delay or a snow day.

Here’s what you need to know about their thought processes.

1. It’s a collaborative effort.

The superintendents of all four county school corporations typically talk to one another before deciding whether or not there’s going to be a two-hour delay. They might not always agree on the same outcome, but there’s collaboration.

And multiple administrators in the school corporation talk, too. On snowy, icy days, they’re out driving the county’s roads to determine whether or not it’s safe for buses to be on them. Operations managers are making sure sidewalks and parking lots are cleared of snow. And transportation directors are making sure buses are ready to roll. 

2. Student safety is top priority.

When school administrators are making decisions regarding two-hour delays (or school cancellations), they’re putting kids first.

Roads might be cleared of snow, but sidewalks sometimes aren’t. That means students who walk have to do so in the street, which is dangerous when the sun’s not up yet. Granting a two-hour delay means those students aren’t walking in the streets during an hour they’re less visible to drivers.

3. Officials decide as soon as they can

By monitoring the weather, school officials are sometimes able to announce two-hour delays the evening before. But sometimes, that call has to come in the early morning.

That’s because road conditions and weather can change from the evening to morning. And since students across the county use different roads to get to school, one corporation’s decision won’t necessarily correlate with another corporation’s decision.

School officials are up early, watching the weather and driving around the county to check roads and conditions. When that call comes at 5:30 a.m., they’ve probably already been awake for an hour.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.