Snow Days: How Dearborn Public Schools decide
With the possibility of more snow in the forecast, and the fact that it is not uncommon in Michigan to have snow as late as April, this seems like a good time to once again describe the district’s process for deciding whether to close school and evening events because of inclement weather.
Many people would like the District to establish a certain temperature or snow amount as a guaranteed cut-off point to close school. It is important to have guidelines and criteria to guide the decision to close but to simply make a decision based on a pre-set number removes all thinking and common sense from the decision. Each time the district makes the difficult decision to close all factors must be considered.
The first priority is always safety. However, please keep in mind that in the southern states 2 inches of snow can be considered unsafe while in northern Michigan or Wisconsin it may take 12 or more inches before safety becomes an issue. In other words, there is not a hard and fast definition of what is safe and what is not. That is why the district must take in to consideration several conditions such as:
1) What are the current conditions, not forecasted conditions.
2) Will District staff be able to clear parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks in time for school?
3) Will busses be operational and running on time?
4)Will conditions allow safe bus operations and ability to navigate narrow neighborhood streets?
5) How are the conditions in other districts? The Superintendent talks with neighboring school districts to see if their conditions are similar to ours. This gives a better picture of the overall situation and its impact on commuting staff members and busses traveling to other locations.
Many times the decision to close school depends on when the snow falls. Twelve inches of snow over the weekend may have no impact on closing while six inches falling in the middle of the night may result in a very different decision. The Superintendent will always try to make the call prior to 5 am and will only go past that time if the situation requires further consideration.
Please keep in mind that no matter what decision a superintendent makes, whether it’s here in Dearborn or in some other community, someone is not going to like it. Missing work to stay home with a child, not being able to arrange outside child-care, or simply feeling that the District doesn’t care about the safety of children are just a few of the many reasons parents often site for agreeing or disagreeing with a school closing decision.
The district will post snow closing information on all major television and radio stations, on the district’s website (www.dearbornschools.org), district facebook page, twitter, district cable Ch.19, and an automated call will also be sent to all parents. We highly encourage everyone to monitor at least one of the many sources available to find out if schools will be closed.
When schools are open, we remind students to wear proper clothing for winter conditions. Hats, gloves, proper shoes, and warm coats should be part of everyone’s wardrobe, especially since we all live in a cold weather state.