Principals explain the science of snow days

By Ellie White

Many high schoolers hope for a snow day from November into March, and although it sometimes seems like snow days are picked at random, there is actually a method to figuring out which days school should be cancelled.

Schools only have a few snow days set aside each year before they encounter problems with completing certain in-school hours mandated by the state. “If we use up all our snow days, then we would have to start handing out blizzard bags, and those aren’t fun for teachers or students,” McNicholas Principal Patty Beckert said.

Other factors of a snow day are other schools’ decisions and the roads surrounding schools and homes. In high schools, it is common to have a large number of student drivers. Student drivers are usually not experienced in driving in snow and ice, and regardless of experience, icy roads can be dangerous for many drivers, especially bus drivers. McNicholas looks at “Forest Hills and West Clermont because of bus service,” Beckert explained.

In McNicholas, the decision to cancel school ultimately rests on Beckert, with help from Director of Curriculum Dan Rosenbaum. In other schools, however, the decision rests with other persons. For example, “The school superintendent makes the decision to cancel school,” Dr. James Renner, Principal of Mariemont High School, said.

In addition to snow, there are other reasons for school days to be cancelled. “If we had to shut down because of the boiler, that would count as a snow day,” Beckert said.

Other days end up delayed because schools are unsure of the outcome of the forecast. “We look at the forecast and if we’re getting more snow than predicted, then sometimes we have to take a gamble,” Beckert said.

Regardless of reason, snow days are typically a rare treat for students, but there can be unseen consequences to them. Schools must be careful with snow days, as well as delays, as the Ohio Board of Education requires a minimum number of house for schools to be in session. The minimum hours for grades 7-12 in Ohio is 1,001 hours per year.

While students are often hopeful for a possible snow day, schools must be precise and careful with what days they deem dangerous enough to cancel.

When the decision to cancel school due to snow arises, the final decision rests upon McNicholas Principal Patty Beckert. “We only have a few days that can be snow days, so we must use them carefully,” Beckert said.


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