Thursday, December 15, 2005

Maybe They Should Reconsider Their Stance

Quick question-- what pops into your head when you think of the state of Wisconsin?

Okay, besides the cheeseheads and the beer and the Packers.

I'd wager that most think of snow. And yes, the cold.

Thus, one might reasonably assume that, "snow days" for Wisconsin's school children were a winter staple.


Oh, contraire!

The following is the first line in a letter I received just yesterday from our city's school superintendent:

As the winter season approaches and because it's been several years since severe weather caused [our city's] schools to close, I'd like to review these guidelines with you. [Emph. added]

That's right. Several. Years. In Wisconsin-- where we get more snow than many US states put together.

Oh, but there's more... how about when it gets cold?

I mean really cold.
Our policy is to close schools if the National Weather Service issues a wind chill warning of 50 degrees below zero that will continue for the length of the entire school day. If the forecast is for improving conditions during the day, we will not close schools. [Emph. added]

That's right, folks, my son could be standing at the bus stop in near blizzard conditions; wind chills of 45 below. His nose peeking dangerously out of his gator, and still, the school day will go on.

That's just messed up.


Kassie said...

ok, we have now had THREE snow days in VA. School was closed today, and we got maybe an inch of snow, then rain.

Our first year here we had 4 days off after 4 inches of snow.

I actually laughed out loud last week as I watched the landscaping company try to plow the snow in our street.

They just don't have the skills or equipment to deal with it here :)

Shannon said...

My husband has family in VA and it's hysterical to see what happens when an inch falls. Milk and bread are wiped out of the supermarkets, people are driving at a near standstill. It's funny.

We had school closings last year here in NH because the temps were 30 below, give or take. They didn't want kids standing outside waiting for the bus because they could get frostbite in seconds.

I can't believe the school board in your area doesn't close school when it gets that cold. Just keep them a few more days in June to make up for extra snow days.

Penny said...

Sorry Sandra, the first thing I thought of was cheese. I couldn't stand to live somewhere like you do. I really really really do not like snow or cold weather. But, if we just get a dusting of snow here school is cancelled. It's kind of a big deal around here. Hardly anyone knows how to drive in the snow so we just stay home and have snow cream. I went to work one day after it snowed last year and I ended up in the ditch. I won't be doing that again. Sorry your son has to get out in the freezing weather. Maybe you should move to NC:-)

Megan said...

I live in a very snowy place to, and this sounds like my school. I don't know what objection these people have to closing schools!

Kathleen Weaver said...

Maybe I can help. I'm a school teacher in an urban school district.

We do have two weather days in our schedule -- we're in Texas.

You have to understand that we shut down the entire region if we get ice. Or snow, as it usually turns to ice.

However, our school district is extremely conservative when it comes to shutting down.

Here's why:

If we don't have school, a huge percentage of our elementary school children are not going to be supervised. Their parents still have to go to work.

A larger percentage of our school children are going to go without food. Many of our students are on free and reduced lunches, and the only hot, nutrious meals they receive are the breakfast and lunch they get. If the parents aren't home there is no one to feed the elementary babies.

Now, I personally think we should shut down school for the high school students only, because we are endangering everyone when we put them on the roads, most of the upperclassmen drive themselves.

Here's the next problem.

We used a weather day last Thursday. We had final exams from Tuesday through Friday. That's already in the schedule and couldn't be changed. Our make up day is in April.

My students lost a review day! I know it hurt my non-English speaking students since they had a teacher made (and graded exam) and we finished it. I don't know about my Algebra I kiddos, because I don't write or grade that test, but I suspect it didn't help them either.

Personally I would take the kid to the bus stop or school myself on days like that, and let him stay warm in the car. (Waiting until the bus arrives if you go to the stop). Maybe you can car pool?

As to the inconvenience, we have a huge population of students we keep warm for hours before school starts since that's the only way they can get transportation to school.

Johnboy said...

I agree that it's messed up! Here in NC, schools have been closed the last 2 days for fear that there may be an icy patch or two out there. I have been out walking and there road is just wet.

Hey, wait...that's messed up, too!!

Tekakwitha said...

I wish I still got snow days. Too bad that when it snows terribly in Chicago I MUST go to work since I work for a non-profit community center and the big snow days are when people need us the most.

But 50 below? That's terrible!


Andrea said...

UGH, Sandra! The thought alone of dealing with those temperatures gives me the chills... I thought we get bad winters in CT-I guess it's not so bad here afterall. Maybe on those really bitter cold days you could drive your kids to school. I hate to think of anyone outside with that kind of windchill...yikes.

Personally, I hate the cold. I'm crossing my fingers that this winter stays on the mild side. Maybe that's not very likely, but I'm going to hope.

julia said...

I live in Massachusetts. We get snow here. Not as much as Wisconsin, probably, but we get our fair share of snow. Today they cancelled school. You know what it's doing? Raining. It was freezing rain at, like, 5:30 this morning. Since 7, when I left my house, it's just been rain. It's a bit slick in places, but come on. This is MASSACHUSETTS, people! Suck it up. Throw some sand on the roads and open the schools. Wimps.

Of course, when I lived in Atlanta (where they can't drive on a wet leaf) any temperature below 15 ABOVE zero got school cancelled. Uber-wimps.

Sandra Miller said...

Julia, I grew up in Massachusetts -- lived there for nearly 26 years before moving to the midwest. During my tenure out east, you could pretty much bank on at least a few snow days every winter. I can still remember the "Blizzard of '78" ... ahhh... good times.

Anyhow, yeah, New England winters are not all that different from those in Wisconsin. So I just don't get the attitude here (although, I suspect that much of what Kathleen writes applies here as well).

One day last year -- when buses were getting stuck all over the city; kids waiting patiently in several feet of snow-- I gave Joseph a snow day. And I won't hesitate to do it again (or just drive him in when we get those nasty wind chills). My kid is no wimp, but come on now, 50 below?

Tiffany said...

Hmmm...maybe I'm the wrong one to be commenting here...

Up here in the great white north, the schools never close. In fact, the only time I remember the school closing as a kid was a blizzard in the late '80s when it snowed so much that we couldn't get our house doors open. Otherwise, school was on no matter how cold it was; when I was about 15 it was colder than -45 Celsius (can't remember what the wind chill was) and my sisters and I still went to school.

Now I'm wishing I'd grown up down south...

Tiffany (writing from the land where we still do 120 km/hr in -30C weather with 10 feet of snow!)