Tuesday, January 3, 2017

This Is How NOT To Do a Snow Day!

There's nothing quite like a snow day!

Back when I was a kid, if we got a lot of snow we would huddle together around the radio and listen carefully, hoping that our school would make the magical list of school closures. The DJ would read through a list of schools that were closed. When he would finally read the name of our school, shouts of joy echoed through the whole neighborhood.

These days, there's no more sitting around the radio; school closures are announced via the internet and robo-calls. It's much more efficient. Or at least it should be.

We got a lot of snow over the last couple of days, and the way the school district handled it is a perfect example of how NOT to do a snow day. Here's a little running diary of how the morning went:

5:00 AM: Got up and out of bed early so I could be sure to have our driveway shoveled before The Wife has to leave for work.

Between 5:00 AM and 6:45 AM: The Wife frequently checks the interwebs to see if there are any updates on whether there will be school or not. Everything points to school as usual.

6:45 AM: The kids (Thing 1 and Thing 2) get out of bed and start to get ready for school. (It's the first day back after Christmas vacation, and they are pretty excited to go to school.)

6:47 AM: We get phone calls on my cell phone, our home phone, and The Wife's cell phone, telling us that despite the snow, it will be a regular school day.

7:03 AM: We get another call from the school district (on all three phones) telling us that, because of the snow, all schools in the district will be delayed for two hours. Buses will still run, but they will be running two hours later than usual. So, everything has changed from the message we got just 16 minutes ago.

This is all well and good except that many of the buses are already running, and many students have already been picked up by the buses. Also, many of the teachers have already left for work and will arrive to find school postponed for two hours.

7:05 AM: The Wife, who is a school teacher, debates about waiting two hours before going in to work, but realizes there will be kids from those early buses who will be at school and need some kind of adult supervision.

7:24 AM: After gathering up a few fun "busy-work" things to entertain the students (origami; Spirograph,) The Wife heads to school, a few minutes later than usual, but still two hours before school is supposed to start.

7:47 AM: Get another call from the school district re-confirming that school will be on a two hour delay.

8:25 AM: The time the bus usually picks up Thing 1 and Thing 2. Instead of standing at the bus stop, they are still here in the house. I try to convince them that if they do their chores now, they won't have to do them after school. After a bit of nagging from me, they finally work on their chores.

9:05 AM: I get a text from my wife telling me that someone in the neighborhood has told her that the bus will be coming at 9:25, which is one hour late and not the two hours late we were told by the robo-call. I quickly get Thing 1 and Thing 2 ready for school.

9:12 AM: The kids go out the door toward the bus stop. Most of the other neighborhood kids got the same message, and are waiting at the bus stop.

9:19 AM: A school bus pulls up to the bus stop. Since my kids are slowly walking in the snow, they are not yet at the bus stop. I yell out the door for them to hurry before the bus leaves.

9:20 AM: The other kids who were at the bus stop attempt to get on the bus, but are turned away. It turns out this is the high school/junior high bus, not the elementary school bus.

9:30 AM: My kids re-enter my house and ask for candy. Being a big softy, and since I made them trudge around in the snow for no reason, I let them have some.

10:05 AM: Once again I send my kids out to the bus stop. Whereas an hour ago there were about 20 kids at the bus stop, now there are only around a dozen.

10:20 AM: Still no bus. Several of the kids have left the bus stop and returned to their homes.

10:26 AM: The bus arrives!!! Thing 1 and Thing 2 get on the bus, along with the other three kids who waited it out. The long school-delayed nightmare is over (at least for me.)

Hooray for the bus!!! (Even if it's two hours late.)

I should say here that I have absolutely no ill will toward the bus drivers. They were out there, doing what they were told, driving in the miserable conditions. They did excellent work.

No, the problem lies with the school district. They need to make up their minds. It is pretty ridiculous to get a phone call telling you one thing (school as usual on schedule), then sixteen minutes later getting a phone call telling you something completely different (school on a two-hour delay.) The fact is that many buses, students, and teachers were already on their way to work when the call was made at 7:03 AM to delay school by two hours.

I realize it is difficult to know exactly what conditions will be, but any school delays or postponements need to be decided upon by 6:00 AM, before anyone actually leaves for school. If not, there will always be some students and/or teachers who will brave the weather, whether or not they actually need to do so.

With all the will-they-or-won't-they-and-when-will-they-if-they-do-it that was going on, all of the technical advances like the robo-calls and interwebs were rendered useless. It was better back in the old days when we huddled around the radio listening for the DJ to say our school's name.


  1. Yea, it was a crazy morning. I was still shoveling when I normally go to work, so I was there for the first-bus-turn-away for the kids. Nuts! I feel similarly; though the fact that I heard anything at all was quite nice, despite the fact that things were some what circus-ish :-)

    I too am deeply greatful for the busses, and everyone as a whole dealing with a crazy situation.

  2. This is not the first time this particular superintendent has waited too long to determine what to do about snow that has been piling up since the afternoon before the decision should have been made. Evidently he is a slow learner. Maybe he needs an IEP.

  3. This delay was handled poorly to say the least! Hopefully they learned something and will actually make up their minds in a timely manner next time. From what I understand the multiple busses getting stuck and sliding off the road were what forced their hand and made them FINALLY call a delay! I think that the superintendent and school board should have to hop in their cars and each drive a bus route at 5 am when considering a snow day/delayed start and then make the call! Oh and not in a 4 wheel drive SUV!