School officials face tough choice on calling for a snow day - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

School officials face tough choice on calling for a snow day

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

To close or not to close?  That was the critical decision to make for school systems across the Pioneer Valley from Greenfield to Springfield.

The timing of Wednesday's snow made the call difficult for many school systems and not all of them made the same choice.

For students, it’s just a waiting game: checking your phone or email, hopeful to sleep in for a snow day.

More than 100 school systems were closed for this storm, but for school staff, that choice may be tougher then you think. 

“We could get kids to school okay, but getting them home would be very difficult," said Springfield Public Schools spokesperson Azell Cavaan.

Cavaan told Western Mass News that was exactly why they decided to cancel classes altogether, announcing it early Tuesday afternoon to give parents proper planning time.

Safety is their top priority and the school system has learned from years past.

Cavaan recalls going with a dismissal instead of canceling as flurries fell throughout a school morning. 

“Parents didn’t all get the message, parents weren’t home.  We’d rather not have school, then face that situation. At least for our community, this is a safer route," Cavaan noted.

While some schools closed, others rolled the dice and went with an early dismissal.  Parents were able to pick up students just as the snow began to fall.

“I think it was about twenty minutes of 10. I looked out my window, the snow started, so I said, I better get going," said Nancy Mack.

Like Springfield, the decision in the Hampden-Wilbraham school district was made the day before, but it was a different outcome.  

Officials in that district told Western Mass News there are several factors to take into account.  The school monitors hour-by-hour weather and also works with the public works department in town to make sure all school parking lots, sidewalks, and streets are safe to have students here. 

A three hour day before the snow even starts is ideal as it also counts as a full day of class.

"This is one more day that they go to school and one more day they’ll have at the summer break," Mack said.

The district meets before every storm to discuss what call should be made.  In the end, though it went against the grain, they went with the early dismissal.

Mack’s daughter went to Minnechaug Regional 20 years ago and said much has changed when it comes to snow responses, but it’s for the better. 

“The Superintendent made the right decision," Mack said.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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