Home Opinion Snow Days and Early Dismissals: Should the Communication With Students Be Better?

Snow Days and Early Dismissals: Should the Communication With Students Be Better?

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Photo Credit: Courtney Caruso
Photo Credit: Courtney Caruso

Mention the word snow day to any high school student and chances are they’ll faces will light up with juvenile glee. We’re brought back to thoughts of building snowmen, sledding and snowball fights. While some of us may have grown out of these traditions of winters past, a snow day or even an early dismissal or delayed opening can conjure up some satisfaction because of its affect on the school schedule. A random snow day can break up the boredom and gloom of the school year. Even a delay or an early dismissal is cheered upon because classes are shorter or some classes are excluded from the day, respectively.  The celebration of a snow day depends, of course, on the decision of the district’s superintendent. However, this decision usually comes at the eleventh hour. Students often arrive at school in the morning not knowing if and when they’ll leave early or go to sleep at night not sure whether they’ll have school in the morning. This system is extremely flawed and often leaves students, parents, and faculty in the dark on the status of the school day.

Forecasting weather is a tricky business. It takes experienced professionals just to render forecasts, and even those tend to be inaccurate.  In this regard, we must give some leniency to the school district. Even with todays advanced technology, predicting the weather even a few days ahead can be tricky says Mr. Maroney, a math teacher who has a knack for weather forecasting. “It’s pretty much like flipping a coin,” says Mr. Maroney. He says that Half Hollow Hills does not look at the forecasts that you and I do to determine closings. Rather, they personally contact independent meteorologist that advise them on what to do. While our school can be slow in announcing closings and delays, others on Long Island are comparably more rigid.  “Some districts on Long Island are a lot more conservative with school days, they never close.” for   By waiting until the last minute to make decisions on closing schools, they lessen the chance of an unnecessary closing and therefore an unnecessary loss of class time that would have to be made up for later in the year.

In comparison to other districts, Half Hollow Hills trails the pack on announcing changes to the school day. Schools in New Jersey and Upstate New York often announce closing and delays before we do, even if they aren’t projected to get as much snow. Sophomore Will Salzano believes that “students need to be aware and able to plan out their school day and should be notified in a timely manner so they can plan accordingly.” Some question whether the change of superintendents is the reason for new problems in communicating school closings. Superintendent Kelly Fallon took over from her predecessor Sheldon Karnilow in 2011. Since then, some claim the district has been more conservative in declaring closings and delays, creating a communication issue with district residents. Of course this claim is highly opinionated and hard to prove since there are limited statistics provided on snow days and when they were announced in past years.

There is a fine line however between being cautious and being obstinate. The district can not be so conservative on snow days that students and faculty alike are in the dark in regards to delays and early dismissals. It also can not be so free spirited to grant snow days every time the threat of a few inches looms in the forecast. Unless the forecast in in extreme uncertainty, snow days and delayed openings should be announced the night before and early dismissals should be announced no later than 6 am that morning, to allow students, parents and faculty to plan out their schedules for the day. By doing this, the district will be more effective in communicating and facilitating school closings and delays.