Source: Sherman Publications

No more snow days left

by Trevor Keiser

March 06, 2013

Whether it’s too much snow, icy roads, or just too dog gone windy outside, school cancellations can be just as unpredictable as the weather.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources Nancy Latowksi, Oxford students have already maxed out their six snow days allowed by the state.

“Anything beyond six we have to reschedule some make-up days,” she said.

Latowski said a lot of factors go into play when it comes to deciding to cancel school.

It begins at around 4 a.m. when Oxford’s Transportation Supervisor Bruce Biebuyck starts driving the roads to see if they are safe or not and because Oxford has so many back roads, it takes some time.

“Sometimes, if it snow and it appears that the traction is good, we can still have school, but he (Biebuyck) will spend several hours riding those roads and make that determination based on safety,” she said.

The next step for Biebucyck is consulting with Oxford Superintendent Dr. William Skilling, as well as other districts to find out what their road conditions are.

“It does make it difficult because weather conditions can change from a half hour prior to the next half hour,” added Latowski. “One of the circumstances we had (this year was that) the conditions were okay and safe to conduct school, we felt, and then it started raining and the roads started freezing. Therefore, we made a later call to cancel elementary because at that point it made the roads unsafe.”

She also said they must have at least 75 percent of students in attendance across the district in order for the school day to count.

“If we don’t meet the 75 percent attendance regulation, then we would have to count that as a snow day even if we held school,” Latowski said. “If we’re in a make-up mode we would have to schedule a make-up day.”

Because the majority of the student population depends on bus transportation, school can also be canceled because not enough buses will start due to freezing temperatures. Latowski noted that Oxford has 52 buses that run 40 routes per day and on an average day transport approximately 3,000 students.

They sometimes get criticized for closing school, when most businesses are open and carry on as usual despite weather conditions, but Latowski said schools can’t make the same decisions businesses do with their employees.

“Because we transport children we have to make these decisions. We also have a large number of student drivers (and) if we hold school then we feel responsible that the conditions need to be safe enough for those student drivers to come in as well,” she said. “We always tell our parents if you don’t feel that conditions are safe enough, we encourage them to keep their children home.

“Most of the time, we’re going to make those decisions based on what we feel are the safest measures.”