GREENFIELD — Phil Leswing’s solution to yet another snow day: Go sledding.
The Greenfield dad was among many local parents making the best of what has become almost a regular event this winter. With almost 7 inches of snow Tuesday night, area schools closed again Wednesday, leaving some parents scrambling to find child care while juggling work; and others enjoying a day off with their families. It was the 12th time this school year that classes have been canceled or delayed because of weather.
Leswing and his wife, Kelly, were among the lucky ones. Both are Greenfield-Central teachers and enjoyed their eighth snow day of the year with sons Brayton, 10; and Landon, 2. While Wednesday was a sledding day, in the past they’ve even played host to winter Olympics-style games for neighborhood children, complete with foil-wrapped candy with ribbons for medals.
“When school is canceled, the whole family is home,” he said. “We get to spend more time together and hang out, play games, go outside and do things you get to do on a snow day with everybody.”
But it isn’t fun and games for everybody. Some parents have been left wondering what to do with their children while meeting the demands of their own jobs.
Chris Wickard had a solution: take the kids to work.
“I have a great family network with my mother-in-law and my mom and dad, but I feel bad they’ve been there so much this winter (for the kids),” Wickard said. “I said, ‘You know, they can come to work with me one day.’ ”
Wickard said Wednesday proved to be a productive day for him, complete with two little assistants who helped him file in his office. Admittedly, Jordan, 11; and Jacob, 7, were getting bored by the end of the day.
While Hancock County was under an orange travel watch Wednesday, local street departments said the snow removal was going well because it was a wet snow that did not drift. By Wednesday evening, most roads were cleared and salted.
Still, the Emergency Operations Center took calls for 11 cars sliding off roadways and nine calls for accidents between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons; no serious injuries were reported. The snow burst also made for treacherous footing: A number of area residents wound up in the emergency department at Hancock Regional Hospital because of falls.
“It seems like the snow came down fast and furious, and that caused more people to slip and fall,” said Rob Matt, HRH spokesman.
While many local parents had to head into work Wednesday, others took the day off or were able to work from home to take care of their children.
Liz Cave said she usually uses paid time off to watch her children on snow days – and her PTO days are quickly disappearing – but Wednesday, she was able to work from home.
While daughter Emily still had to attend classes through her online high school, son Camden enjoyed a break from third grade at Fortville Elementary.
“He’s not so upset about not handing in homework … because it usually means another day without homework,” Cave said. “I don’t think he understands the concept of having to do makeup days over spring break or the concern that he’s a third-grader and iREAD is coming up. The biggest downside for him is the social side; the fact that he can’t see his friends. That was definitely the struggle when we had the week off at the beginning of the new year.”
Jim and Courtney Dunn had a father-daughter work afternoon, shoveling their driveway together. Courtney, a G-CHS junior, usually heads to her grandparents’ house as her dad travels to work, but Wednesday’s snow even kept him at home for the day.
“I’m just grateful for a warm house and the ability to shovel a driveway – it’s great to be out hanging out with my daughter,” Dunn said.
Dave Strantz went into work, grateful that his wife, Jenny, is a Mt. Vernon teacher and can care for their three children every time school is delayed or canceled.
“They can’t help but get excited when the school calls and they’re trying to anticipate how late they can stay up the night before,” Strantz said. “If it’s a school night, they have to go to bed early. But if it’s a delay, we’ll let them stay up later.”
And while Nicole Lees was able to stay home with her two children Wednesday, she can’t help but think about how Mt. Vernon schools will make up the time during spring break.
“We can’t control the weather, so I completely understand,” she added. “It’s a bad winter. You just have to deal with it when it comes.”
Staff writers Noelle M. Steele and Jim Mayfield contributed to this report.