Safety always top priority in decision on snow days

Ever wonder how a school district’s snow days and delays are decided?
Jessica Cydylo 12th Grade, Schenectady High School
Jessica Cydylo 12th Grade, Schenectady High School

Ever wonder how a school district’s snow days and delays are decided?

“Safety is always the No. 1 concern,” said Eric Ely, superintendent of Schenectady Schools. This decision affects the safety of students as well as teachers during the school day.

Now I know what everyone is thinking. Every school’s superintendent never wants to see a snow day and wants to torture us with no precious breaks during the winter season. We curse their name when we prayed for no school or a delay, but got school.

In truth, our superintendents are truly involved. Ely elaborated as a truly concerned and dedicated superintendent, making his decision solely on bad weather and safety.

“I drive the streets beginning at 4 a.m. I also walk my neighborhood sidewalks in the morning as well.” He also stressed the major concern of ice, as it is more challenging than slush or snow.

In addition to his views on the weather conditions, Ely contacts the custodial staff on the condition of school parking lots and sidewalks.

At the end of this process, and if there is a delay or cancellation needed, Ely, like many others, commits to making the news station call between 5 and 5:30 a.m. at the latest.

However, with all our experience with snow days and delays through the years, there are still those few questions unanswered.

One includes the limit of three snow days every school year. The State Education Department sets a minimum number of school days each year. “If we go over the three days, then we are mandated to make days up to reach the minimum number of school days,” Ely says.

Since we have a limited number of snow days, does that mean we have a limited number of delays too? “One-hour and two-hour delays do not affect the number of days; therefore we can be very flexible in their use.” At least we’ll always have a chance to miss some school.

One last burning question. Like many times before, the winter weather has been bad while school was in session. Would there be a chance of school shutting down so we could go home early? According to Ely, there is hardly ever a chance.

“I have never considered closing school during the school day. The safest place for students if a weather emergency occurs during the school day is in school. Should we ever choose to close early, every parent would have to be contacted before we would release the students from school.”

On stormy winter days, Eric Ely and fellow superintendents face the snow and ice just as much as we do. In fact, they’re one of the first to experience the wrath.

With all of these snow day questions answered, we can now envision the procedure and time that goes into the decision. Knowing this, we should all cut our superintendents some slack during the winter.

Jessica Cydylo is a 12th-grader at Schenectady High School.

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