Schools grapple with decision to close or delay in bad weather

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RIVERSIDE, Ohio (WDTN) – With extreme temperatures expected Thursday some school districts may consider cancelling classes or issuing a 2-hour delay.

2 NEWS spoke with several superintendents Wednesday about that decision and many of them said it’s really a judgment call that’s based on safety.

When deciding to cancel or stay open, superintendents will keep a close eye on the forecast, check ODOT reports, contact their building maintenance crews and transportation departments, communicate with other superintendents to see what their plans are for other districts before make the tough decision in the early morning hours.  In some cases, superintendents will make the call the night before based on the severity.

Some other factors include actual temperature, wind chill factor and refreeze or icy conditions.  Superintendents will also consider the amount of snow expected and the impact it will have on the roads and sidewalks as well as the overall state of the school buildings and property.  Including snow removal, the heating and cooling systems inside the building, pipes, etc. Most importantly can kids, parents and staff get to and from school safely.

According to Mad River Local Schools Superintendent Chad Wyen, transportation is also a major factor, “Sometimes you know the temperature effects transportation,” Wyen said. He continued, “You know if our buses can’t get warmed up or whatever, that’s also a factor that we have to consider, but typically on a cold day we really focus on that zero degree actual temperature and kind of a negative 10 for wind chill.”

Each school district has an allotted amount of hours available for cancellations and delays built into their calendar.  Most school districts still use the “five calamity days” format, where anything after that will require make up days, but it varies by district.

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