Defending Snow Day Choice: B. Hills Gives Facts, Novi Gives Laughs

Defending Snow Day Choice: Bloomfield Hills Gives Facts, Novi Gives Laughs20150108snowday01

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 8, 2015)

Posts of speculation, jubilation and disappointment speckled social media  Wednesday night and Thursday morning as students from area schools learned whether their district would be calling for a snow day. More specifically, a Candlewickshop_May2014weather day, since it was not snow but brutally cold temperatures that caused some districts to have students stay home.

But the decision was not uniform through Oakland County, raising the question that comes up every year – what makes a snow day decision?

The Superintendents of Bloomfield Hills Schools and Novi Schools took to social media Thursday to defend their decisions.

Novi Superintendent Dr. Steve Matthews responded directly to social media messages about the decision, calling out students who expressed their regret digitally. One student had 934_8600_Gen-Online_BannersTweeted “@docmatthews I mean no offense in this but 370 schools are closed, do you really know better than 370 superintendents?” In another case, a parent shared their child’s disgruntled texts “Steve Matthews woke up this morning and said “I’m gonna be an [word crossed out]” and that’s why we have school on this LOVELY day. momma I actually cried years for 20 minutes [sic].”

“You, my friends, are an awesome group of people. You are funny, talented, thoughtful, and intelligent. You are, most of the time, friendly, polite, caring, and honest.But you were not happy with me this morning,” Dr. Matthews wrote in a “Letter to the Students of Novi High School.”

He briefly explained that he made the best decision he could, and went on to address the ctechadcomplaints. “In your life there will be people who make decisions that impact you with which you completely disagree. In the social media world that we live in it is easy and somewhat comfortable to take to Twitter or Facebook or Snapchat or whatever other application there is that I don’t know about and vent.
“It feels good. It makes people laugh.
“But it could get you in trouble. Some bosses, colleagues, employees, or employers may not be as understanding as I am about comments that are vulgar, disparaging, or mean.
“I would urge you to use caution and to think while you Tweet, post, and communicate via social media,” Dr. Matthews wrote.

In Bloomfield Hills Superintendent Rob Glass gave a more detailed explanation of the care that goes into the decision to keep school open or to close it for the day. Glass wrote “To modern natural baby inprogressminimize disruption to the educational process, the goal is always to keep school in session unless road conditions, severe cold or other weather conditions pose a significant risk to student safety. Last year, record snowfalls and extended bitter cold (beyond -25 degrees) reacted with one another (e.g. salt not working), making actual conditions even tougher to accurately predict. This year, we have faced some cold days, with wind chill temperatures into the negative teens, but not yet reaching nearly the -25 and beyond from last winter.

However, just as there is no defined depth of snow accumulation that indicates closure (because of the overall effect of wind, ice, temperature, humidity and other factors), likewise, there is no seed8453274382_Pamela Williamsexact temperature that indicates closure. Typically, when wind chills head into the -22 and below range, we consider school cancellation because frostbite can set in within approximately 30 minutes. If the road conditions are not favorable, bus delays may push bus stop wait times into the 30 minute range, posing a risk to our students. For that reason, a designated member of my administration will often drive district roads between 3:00 and 4:30 a.m. and report to me findings and recommendations that help inform my decision. I also consult with weather authorities and other area superintendents, but ultimately I have to make a decision based on what I feel is in the best interest of Bloomfield Hills students.

Whenever possible, I try to provide advance notice of school cancellation so that parents can make alternate plans. Yet, this has to be balanced with waiting as long as possible to make sure the weather stays true to the forecast. Of course, no forecast is perfect, and sometimes the dinos02sidelogo3temperatures and snowfall amounts vary, which supports waiting until 4:30 am to make the decision (despite the difficulty we know this poses to families who have less time to make alternate arrangements). There is no way to be perfect with this. I can only make the best possible decision in real time with the best available information.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Michigan winters are never predictable or easy to navigate, but we will do our very best to keep both learning and safety as our top priorities”

Novi’s Dr. Matthews ended his letter with a sentiment that could be true for any school in session. “I was in your school today during “A” lunch. I visited tables saying hello, smiling and laughing with your classmates. It appeared that you were enjoying being in school. I hope that was true,” he wrote. “Novi High School is a good place to be – even on cold days like today.”

For more on Novi Schools go to: http://www.novi.k12.mi.us/

For more on Bloomfield Hills Schools go to: http://www.bloomfield.org/.

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