Ah, winter. The time of brisk winds, heavy coats, sledding and ice skating. It's also the time of year when children (not to mention their parents and teachers) keep an eye on the weather to see if there will be enough of the white stuff to close the schools.
One thing that will not determine whether school is closed or not?
"While I appreciate good-natured tweets from students begging me for a day off, they play absolutely no factor in my decision making process," stated Joe Clark, superintendent for the Nordonia Hills City Schools, in an email. "Also, Twitter posts from local weathermen making predictions about the chances of having a snow day are made to increase their social media traffic and have no credibility."
Clark said he drives the neighborhoods and talks with local road crews and police while making a decision on delaying the start of school or closing entirely. He also said he uses www.weather.gov for up-to-date information on the weather.
"Whenever possible, the decision to close school will be made the previous evening," Clark said. "However, closings may be announced as late as 6 a.m. depending on a variety of factors."
The amount of snow isn't the only factor that comes into play when it comes to deciding whether to close the schools, Clark said. Road conditions, temperatures and wind chill also are weighed.
"We make decisions that are in the best interest of our students with safety as our No. 1 priority," Clark said.
Also, ultimately parents have the call on whether to send their child to school, Clark said.
"If parents are concerned for their children's safety getting to and from school or activities, we respect their right to keep them home," he said.
According to information provided by the school's website:
When the Nordonia Schools close:
• All evening activities in the elementary and middle school buildings are canceled.
• High school evening activities may take place depending on the weather throughout the day. Communication regarding such events will be made by relevant coaches or advisers.
• Preschool and Champions are canceled.
• Transportation to CVCC is not provided.
• Community groups scheduled to use school facilities (e.g., youth athletic leagues, Scouts, etc.) will have their events canceled.
When the Nordonia Schools delay:
• AM kindergarten is canceled.
• AM preschool is canceled.
• CVCC morning bus runs are canceled.
• Champions will operate on a two-hour delay.
For those wanting to find out if school is closed or delayed, they can follow Clark on Twitter @DrJoeClark. Parents also will receive a phone call, and information will be posted to the school website and sent to the local news stations.
Visit http://www.nordoniaschools.org for details.
Jeff Ferguson, the superintendent of the Tallmadge City Schools, said the district works "very hard to maintain student safety during those bad weather days."
"Many factors go into the decision that can be related to snow — how much and when it arrives — or extreme cold weather," Ferguson said. "We are in contact with the city and our snow removal guys early in the morning to check road conditions and our ability to get all of our lots and sidewalks clear. The extreme cold days we take into consideration the National Weather Service guidelines for dangerous conditions related to skin exposure."
Ferguson said that notifications are sent through the district's ALL Call system, the district website and Twitter.
"We take after school activities on a case by case basis using the same safety guidelines," he said. "The Six District programs coordinate with the individual student families. If I attend Tallmadge in the morning and Kent in the afternoon, I would be notified by both schools of the decision."
Busing services are not provided when the schools close, he added.
For details, visit http://www.tallmadgeschools.org/ online.
Stow-Munroe Falls School Superintendent Tom Bratten said there "is no set formula" for determining whether to close or delay school. He said he contacts other area superintendents, the Stow police chief and the city to help him make a determination.
It depends on what the weather will do, and what it is expected to do, Bratten said. The safety of the students and staff are the main consideration, he added.
"If it snows a foot at midnight, that's not going to be a problem," he said. "It will be cleared. But if we see we might get a foot of snow in the afternoon, now that could be a problem."
Mark Fritz, director of operations, said that parents should make sure their contact information is up to date in case the district needs to reach them due to a school closing or a delay.
For details, visit http://smfschools.org/ online.
Sheryl Sheatzley, manager of communications and alumni outreach with the Hudson City Schools, said the district sent an email to parents in early November outlining weather-closing information.
"When an actual delay or cancellation takes place, a phone call is made to all parents as early as possible," Sheatzley said. "In addition, an email is sent, the information is posted on our website, mobile app, Facebook and Twitter. Parents also have a wide variety of TV and radio stations that they can look to for information.
Each building also posts what parents need to know if a delay is called.
Also, if severe weather arrives near dismissal times, students may be kept in school until it is safe enough to travel, Sheatzley said. Parents will be alerted through an Alert Now call if there is a long delay.
Explorer Zone, the before and after school childcare program offered through the Hudson Community Education and Recreation, is cancelled if schools are closed. Before care will be canceled if there is a two-hour delay. In addition, there would be no morning kindergarten or preschool with a two-hour delay.
"In most cases, school activities are canceled when school is closed," said Superintendent Phil Herman. "However, as the day goes on, we analyze the activities that are scheduled and the conditions of the roads to determine if it is safe to continue with afternoon or evening activities."
For details, follow the district on Twitter @ hudsonohschools, Facebook at Hudson City Schools, Ohio, or at www.hudson.k12.oh.us online.
Twinsburg Superintendent Kathryn Powers said she sent a letter to parents at the beginning of the school year, and posted a copy on the district website.
In the letter, Powers stated that the district's employees "assess the road conditions by driving school district areas."
"The determination as to whether school is closed or delayed begins at approximately 4 a.m.," Powers said. "Other area school and city officials are consulted before the final decision is made to delay or close school. Generally, I will follow the recommendation of a number of school and other officials and make the decision to close or delay school by approximately 5:45 a.m. As soon as the decision is made to delay or close school, an automated Blackboard Connect message will be sent to parents/guardians and staff members."
Powers said that parents should make sure their contact information is updated so they can be reached in the event that school would need to be delayed or closed.
In a delay, when school starts two hours later, bus schedules are adjusted by two hours. School will end at the normal time.
"A delay is called if we believe that conditions may clear enough for us to have school," Powers said. "Parents and guardians should continue to monitor TV and radio stations because the possibility remains that if the conditions do not improve, school may be canceled for the entire day. Also, a second Blackboard Connect message will be sent if, in fact, school closes for the day."
Morning bus services to the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center and morning preschool classes will be canceled if schools are closed or are on a delay, Powers stated. Private school transport also will be on a two-hour delay.
For more information, visit http://www.twinsburg.k12.oh.us/ online.
According to information provided on the Cuyahoga Falls City School District website, factors taken into consideration include wind chill, visibility, ice, how clear the sidewalks are and more.
"The business manager and/or members of his staff review the condition of the main roads since road conditions are of the utmost importance in this decision," according to the website. In addition, the safety forces are contacted in Cuyahoga Falls and Silver Lake. Other districts also are contacted when making a decision.
"Parents are urged to listen to local radio stations or watch local television for school closing details," according to the website. "As soon as the official decision is made to close school, a special message will be sent on the Cuyahoga Falls City School District Alert Now Automated Phone System. In addition to the phone message, it will be posted on the District web site at www.cfalls.org."
The district also uses Twitter, Facebook, text and email for announcing school closings, said Cuyahoga Falls Schools Superintendent Todd Nichols.
Nichols said the district rarely will delay opening the schools.
"For closure, usually it takes a minimum of 3 inches of snow, but it’s variable," Nichols said. "In terms of temperature, we use -15 degrees wind chill factor."
For school activities, Nichols said he talks with several other superintendents, and that this is "usually a separate decision made by noon." These cancellations are school specific, he added.
One challenge in deciding whether to close the Woodridge schools is the layout of the district, according to information from the Woodridge schools.
"Given the unique terrain in and around our district, weather and road conditions may be fine in one portion of the district, but not in another," stated a recent letter on calamity days posted on the district’s website. "As such, we actually drive through the district, when possible, to examine conditions first-hand. The decision to close schools or to implement some sort of delayed start typically occurs between 5 and 5:45 a.m. if not the night before. The timing of the decision is critical given the district’s heavy reliance on bus transportation and the timing of bus routes."
According to the information on the Woodridge Local School website, the district uses the Alert Now call system, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and email to help spread the word quickly to parents regarding school closings. Announcements also are sent to local media outlets.
There are several factors that go in deciding whether or not to close the schools, according to the district’s website. This includes the amount of snow and ice, the condition of the roads, the condition of the buildings and parking lots, the timing of the storm, the temperatures and wind chill, and what surrounding districts are doing.
"We must give careful consideration to the most dangerous roads in the district; they can be treacherous, even if your road or street looks clear," according to the information provided by the district.
Woodridge will seldom call for a two-hour delay, according to the website.
"On very rare occasions, a two-hour delayed start may be utilized when conditions are expected to improve dramatically just after the normal start of the school day," according to the website. "We recognize that this option is not optimal, however, as it creates very unique challenges for parents, and for the district."
For details, visit http://www.woodridge.k12.oh.us/index.jsp online.