Are we having a snow day tomorrow?
Is school going to be closed because of the snow?
What are the chances of no school tomorrow?
When snow is forecast the day is punctuated with the buzz of questions like these.
I love the assumption that, as head of school, I can somehow predict the future and control the weather.
While neither of those are true, I do usually make the decision of whether to close school or have a two-hour delayed opening.
Fortunately help is at hand.
A middle school student shared a link that he swears is highly reliable: Snow Day Calculator. (Thanks Elijah!)
I entered the zip and the requisite data. (This included a school policy rating as “harsh”.) And back came the result.
According to the Snow Day Calculator there is a 99% chance there will be no school tomorrow. (Just to check accuracy, I entered the zip for Miami Beach. Students there may be disappointed to learn that their chance of a snow day is “Limited”.) It says it only refreshes at midday…Hmm, maybe not so reliable,
So, when at the end of the day a few students dropped by to find out the chances of school being closed, I showed them the calculator result. Excitement ensued.
But the reality is we won’t know until later and probably not until tomorrow morning.
What happens is this: Facilities manager Steve Mallet and I both wake up
early, monitor the weather and the local school districts listings as their road scouts report in on road conditions. And because we have such a dispersed community that information can be very different. Red Hook and Rhinebeck may be closed, New Paltz and Highland delayed and no problem in Pawling or Garrison. The roads can be too icy in Millbrook and completely clear in Poughkeepsie.
We check in by phone, share what we know, and make the call. We always try to do this as early as possible once the information is clear. Occasionally circumstances are clear the night before and we activate accordingly. More usually it means around 5.30-6am.
The worst is when the weather is clearly on the move and the districts are a patchwork of decisions. Two-hour delay? Or not? Convert the delay to a closing? Or not?
Steve contacts the radio stations and I activate the chain that gets a message on the website, on the answering machine and out to all faculty and staff. Do we always get it right? No. But we do our best.
We always encourage families to make their own determination about whether it is safe to travel to school. This is especially true for the parents of our student drivers. Conditions vary so much that even when we declare school open the roads in any particular home location may be icy and dangerous.
So – do we have school tomorrow?
I have no idea. But it would be wise to check the website, listen to the radio or call in to the answering machine sometime after 5.30am tomorrow.