Winter weather ride along: How we make snow day decisions

Winter weather ride along: How we make snow day decisions
Posted on 01/23/2020
winter weather ride alongIn addition to driving major roads throughout the district, Dr. Gaines also checks the condition of school entrances and parking lots. Sometimes he will get out of his car and walk around the parking lots and sidewalks that staff and students would use.

"We've got crews ready to work on the parking lots," Dr. Gaines said. "When you get the forecast, we're able to get all of the equipment on our trucks. Yesterday we were putting on snow plows and salt spreaders."

The facilities employees who operate that equipment come into work earlier on mornings when winter weather was forecasted overnight. If necessary, custodial employees are also sometimes asked to come in early to clear sidewalks at their schools.

"It's best when the road conditions and forecast are so bad the night before, and you can give everyone a little more notice that school is going to be out." Dr. Gaines said. "The earlier the better just so families have a little more notice."

When the overnight forecast and conditions aren't clear enough to make a call the night before, the goal is to notify families and employees as soon as possible. Part of that process is a conference call with other area superintendents, typically around 4:15 a.m. During that call, school leaders receive a weather briefing directly from National Weather Service meteorologists.

If the decision is made to close schools, the goal is to alert bus drivers and School Food and Nutrition staff as soon as possible before they leave their homes to come to work, as well as school administrators and the Communications team to send alerts via text, email, phone and social media. 

Dr. Gaines says that making a decision regarding snow days can be one of the most difficult tasks for any superintendent. 

"When I talk to colleagues, it's one of the things that everyone hates most," Dr. Gaines said. "Sometimes it's an easy call, but when it's a hard call, it can be a real hard call."

Watch the video to hear more from Dr. Gaines about the district's decision-making process when it comes to winter weather and to ride-along on his drive on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. 

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