During my early days of teaching in order to learn of school closings one would receive a telephone call. Each school had a phone tree in place, and we would call each other to spread the news. Students and parents listened to the radio to hear about school closings or time delays.
I’ve talked about advancements in technology in this column before. That also applies to communication about issues that pertain to the whole school system. There is a system in place that uses recorded information to make calls to all parents, students, and faculty and staff members. What a major improvement in communicating!
Snow days or severe weather days are wonderful and terrible. It is an unexpected day off and a chance to relax, catch up on one’s reading, and be lazy. Many staff members use the time to catch up on paperwork and prepare lesson plans. The unexpected day off feels like playing hooky. On the other hand, the dangers of severe weather are very real and often scary.
It is almost as if we forget that if we missed a day of school it has to be made up. The law mandates that students have a specified number of classroom instructional days during the school year. The last time I had knowledge of the exact number of days that must be spent in the classroom, the magic number was 188 days.
School closings are not taken lightly by those in charge. They don’t cancel school without sufficient reason. Sometimes we forget the routes that busses have to follow in order to pick up students. It can be dangerously treacherous. Sometimes the reasons for school closings may not be readily apparent, but there is always a reason involving student welfare and safety for each decision that is made.
I truly feel badly for the superintendent and others that have to make the decision. If the weather forecasters are correct, then praise is heaped on them. If the forecast isn’t correct, they blame the decision makers. I have always said that I definitely would not want to be the decision maker.
I can only imagine how weather days cause problems for parents. Finding last minute child care cannot possibly be easy. Many parents are forced to take time off from work to be at home with their children. But I’m also sure that these parents appreciate their child’s welfare coming first.
Upon our return to school, I always liked to let my students share how they spent the unexpected day off. The most common response was sleeping late, followed by watching TV, playing games, and reading and/or studying.
It’s really strange how much excitement a weather day generates. As a teacher I must admit that I enjoyed the unexpected off days as much as my students. There is something exhilarating about being at home when you are supposed to be at school. Even though the days must be made up, weather days are often a lot of fun.