WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Delaware schools don't wait for snow to cancel

Interesting pattern in northern Delaware school closings this Monday...

Undoubtedly a reaction to the January winter storm in which the majority of schools - public and private - opened on time but with early dismissals (only to see traffic gridlock at midday, as the snowfall intensified, and many folks were caught on the roads for hours!) - today, many school administrators threw in the towel and announced closings even before the flakes began to fall.

Even schools whose administrators are disinclined to announce an early closing - before the snow or ice materializes - gave it up.

This is the first of three winter storms this week (although the mid-week storm could still be more rain than snow).

The snow days are piling up beyond the allocated number of days and we could see some schools trying to make up with shorter vacation breaks and/or added days at the end of the academic year. Hopefully, a hot summer will not have settled in by then, lest we have kids - and teachers - sweltering in non-air conditioned classrooms.

All this is yet one more example why some state legislators should give up their silly quest to delay the beginning of the regular academic year.

Posted at 7:47am on February 3, 2014 by Allan Loudell

<- Back to all Allan Loudell posts

Comments on this post:

Mon, Feb 3, 2014 7:55am
Oh, we already have to make-up days. I don't know if it was the Diocese in general, or just my kids' school (All Saints Catholic School), but they planned ZERO snow days for this year. They've already announced we'll have school on Presidents Day, and taken a day away from Easter break.

I have no problem with administrators cancelling school based on a forecast. As you said, administrators were fearful of the last storm, with people being stuck in traffic for hours trying to get their kids home in the heart of the storm. They'll be slammed today if the snow never materializes, but would have been slammed if they hadn't cancelled and the snow did come. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

But working zero snow days into the schedule to begin with? That's just poor planning.

Mike from Delaware
Mon, Feb 3, 2014 8:35am
Add to that the big story last week of the same sort of thing, but larger in Atlanta.

Another aspect to also consider. When I was a kid in the 50's and early 60's, most of us walked to school [You weren't on school property until you stepped onto the school grounds, far less liability back then, not to mention folks didn't sue over anything.] As a result, they rarely canceled school. If we got a big snow then they canceled school, but I remember walking to school with snow up to my knees. You dressed for the weather and off you went.

Today, most kids ride school-buses, so once they get onto a school-bus they are on school property, so the district is now liable for the journey to and from the school yard. Also people will sue for anything these days, and school administrators walk in fear of getting sued for some issue or other.

Also, think what it costs to run the heaters when school is in session than the overnight far cooler setting, plus the gasoline the buses require to make the trip to and from the school yard. So having a 1/2 or an abbrieviated day due to snow is very costly, especially given how little actual learning will happen that day.

I believe all of these things play into the administrators just playing it safe and not having school.

Sadly, far too many parents [especially moms] today view school as a free baby-sitting service for them [that's why many young mothers want year-round schools]. The reason they get upset with schools being closed is as most of the moms work outside of the home, so now they've either got to find a place to dump their kids so they can go to work, or they lose a day at work [vacation day, sick day, no pay day] to be at home for that school closing vs. back in my day, when most moms were stay-at-home moms; they didn't have that hassle.

So yes, look to see the kids having a shorter "Easter Break" [whoops can't call it that anymore] I mean "Spring Break", which makes sense, because having school in the summer would be very misearable in classrooms without A/C. This, of course, will tick-off both parents and teachers who may have had plans for a Spring Break Vacation trip. Ah, the joys of having kids in school in our modern sophisticated society!

Mon, Feb 3, 2014 8:46am
I can understand the conundrum of closing vs. not closing schools - obviously the safety of the kids is most important. But closing government?

Mon, Feb 3, 2014 9:08am
MFD - In my case, I can safely say "Easter break", since my kids are in a Catholic school.

Mike from Delaware
Mon, Feb 3, 2014 10:19am
Arthur, good point. Obviously the plow operators are working, yet their pencil-pushing cohorts in government get a paid day off, that you and I get to pay, while we go to work.

Shawn: That is one benefit of having your kids in a Christian school, be it Catholic, Lutheran, or Evangelical.

Mon, Feb 3, 2014 7:07pm
"Easter Break" [whoops can't call it that anymore] I mean "Spring Break"..."
MFD: And you were making such nice progress at being inclusive and not imposing your religion on those who don't share it.

NPR did yet another piece this morning on fat (whoops, I mean obese) kids and how kids don't get enough exercise. Maybe if kids did walk or ride bikes to school, as MFD mentioned, it might (ahem) reduce the problem.

But part of the problem is the Pizza Slice school districts. Kids have to ride buses because of the distances between homes and schools. Are we stuck with these forever? Other cities have demographic disparities between the city and the suburbs, but I have never heard of any place else that adopted the Pizza Slice solution. A better solution would be (would have been) state or county funding - at uniform levels - for schools. It would probably be cheaper for suburbanites to contribute to city schools than to run buses to keep the Pizza Slices going.

Then there's all those areas without sidewalks in the 'burbs and that keeps kids from walking, even if they live within a mile of their schools. OK, let's build sidewalks. One time expense and cheaper in the long run than busing students who live less than a mile from school.

If we do something about busing, maybe we wouldn't need all these schools days.

Of course, the real culprit here is the media. Schools didn't close nearly so much before the media started announcing school closings, giving administrators the idea that closing for snow was thing to do. Too late to undo that damage since hardly anybody listens to radio for school closings any more, at least not anybody of child raising age. The people who listen to right-wing talk radio maybe pay attention to see if their great grandchildren will stay home.

Also notice in places where they don't close schools (at all or so much) they have compulsory drivers' ed. Part of the problem with winter weather is all the bad drivers in this part of the country. In Minnesota, they take kids out on frozen lakes and teach them how to drive on ice. You don't need a lake; on a cold day just hose down the parking lot to create an icy surface.

Mon, Feb 3, 2014 8:22pm
I think it's completely unfair that post offices and pizza delivery shops have to stay open regardless of the weather and these kids get a day off from school anytime there's an inch or two of snow.

I think it's time for some "weather equality"!

Add your comment:
Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members Only Group username and password are required to process your post.

You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please click here.

Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.

Copyright © 2014, Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.   Terms of Use.
WDEL Statement of Equal Employment Opportunity and Outreach