School Closing Decision Tests Superintendents

School Closing Decision Tests Superintendents

Ever wonder how school district administrators decide to shut schools down or, at the very least, implement a two-hour delay in the face of a pending snow storm, freezing rain or some other inclement weather.

Turns out superintendents relay on the TV weatherman, the national weather service, the district’s maintenance staff and even their friends in neighboring school districts before making their decision and then hope “a little luck (the good kind)” smiles on them.

An essay, endorsed by 16 Lancaster County school district superintendents, describes the decision making process superintendents go through each time the forecast calls on them to “interpret Mother Nature’s whims” appeared on LancasterOnline on Sunday.

“Have you seen the forecast?”

That’s a question Lancaster County school superintendents ask each other often this time of year.

As fall gives way to winter, the duties of local school superintendents expand to include interpreting Mother Nature’s whims. We are the folks who decide whether our children get to sleep in for an extra hour or two, or, in the happiest of circumstances for many students, get a day off.

And already this winter, we’ve had to make that call a lot.

How exactly do superintendents decide whether there is a school delay or cancellation? Why do they sometimes cancel the night before? Why do they sometimes delay only to cancel an hour or two later? At times, it may seem as if there is neither rhyme nor reason to it, but a great deal of consultation goes into every decision. And, of course, a little luck (the good kind) doesn’t hurt.

We are tasked with balancing the need to maintain instructional time with the desire to keep our students, staff and families as safe as possible. We do not take these decisions lightly; in fact, they cause us no small amount of stress, as we do not want to put anyone in harm’s way.

Read the entire column here.

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