How does superintendent know to call snow days?

Jack Killeen Business Manager

 Phoebe Mussman Contributing Writer

Snow and ice covers the intersection of W. Kirkham and Rock Hill on Dec.14 as students drive to school to take the ACT. (Photo by Phoebe Mussman)

Snow and ice covers the intersection of W. Kirkham and Rock Hill on Dec.14, as students drive to school to take the ACT. (Photo by Phoebe Mussman)

Due to icy roads and substantial snowfall, Webster Groves School District Superintendent Dr. Sarah Riss has been forced to cancel school three times this year.

On Jan. 21, Riss was out driving in Webster at 3:30 a.m. “checking the roads and sliding through stop signs” to confirm that cancelling school would be the right choice.

Sometimes there are great amounts of snowfall, and school still stays in session because cars aren’t put into dangerous situations without ice on the roads.

In this case the city snowplows still drive through the night to maximize safety, but that didn’t happen the night before Jan. 21, which contributed to the decision of cancelling school.

Throughout the winter, Riss and up to 20 other superintendents in the St. Louis area discuss on the phone together late into the night on whether or not to call a snow day.

“We try to decide the evening before to call it off, but we can’t always do it,” Riss said. “Our conditions in Webster are a lot different than what’s out west, so we have different factors to consider.”

Issues unrelated to weather can dismiss school as well. Simply uncooperative buses or problems with electricity/heating make it impossible to keep school in session.

“When closing school, we have to look at the whole picture,” Riss said.

Sophomore Antoine Givens said, “Snow days are good, but I think we could start school an hour or two late, that way students could get to school safely and on time to their classes.” Givens has been late to class in the past due to harsh weather conditions.

Freshman Ben Mitchler has had close calls in the past. He was on his way to school with his mom when the car failed to brake at a stop sign and nearly hit another car. Mitchler then proceeded to walk into school and continue his day.

Even if there’s no snow, Riss must keep in mind if it’s safe to let children walk to school or wait at the bus stop in below-freezing temperatures.

“I walk to school every morning. Snow days ensure people don’t get hurt on the way to school; students shouldn’t be forced to go when they feel it’s unsafe outside,” sophomore Hannah Biggs said.

Categories: Features

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