The dirt behind the snow

An inside look at how snow days are decided

Students+taking+the+bus+were+greeted+with+fresh+snow+Dec.+16.+On+days+like+this%2C+students+are+always+waiting+for+the+news+of+an+early+release.

Taylor Voigt

Students taking the bus were greeted with fresh snow Dec. 16. On days like this, students are always waiting for the news of an early release.

Maya Nieves

This year Minnesota has gotten an extreme amount of snow. From Jan. 2-5, Minnesota’s storm (Big Mess) came in #24 for the top 24 snowfalls since 1884. There has only been one snow day and few early releases and late starts. 

According to sophomore Ryan Steinberg, who recently received his license, it’s best to have a snow day whenever possible. He said that road conditions can be extremely dangerous, especially for new drivers. 

“This is the first winter that I’ve had my license and driving with the snow has been a big challenge,” Steinberg said. “It was a big relief to my parents and I when school was canceled, because we had been worried about the roads being icy.”

While the decision to have a snow day is ultimately Superintendent Astein Osei’s decision, he said he meets with a team to help decide what the best option for the district is. 

“The severe weather team comes together during the winter. Depending on what’s happening, we could meet multiple times a day,” Osei said. “For example, earlier one week we made a decision in the morning to do an early dismissal, a staggered early release to try to ensure that students could keep the buses on schedule and try to beat some of the weather.”

Steinberg also said late starts are a fantastic option that gives students more time to safely get to school and still complete a nearly full day. 

“Late starts as well as early releases can be helpful, especially if the snow will be easier to drive on at that time. If reports are showing that driving at that time will cause less accidents and admin still wants to get in most of the school day, that’s a great idea and will help with people staying safe on the roads,” Steinberg said. 

According to Osei, not only is canceling school a disruption, but not being in school can impact students’ ability to have healthy food. 

“I would say (that) certainly the number one priority is to always try to keep school open, which is why we don’t have as many snow days as some students would like,” Osei said. “Then making sure students have routines and are able to get access to healthy breakfasts and lunches.” 

Math teacher Anson Opara said that Park should utilize it’s resources to do school work from home as this is something other schools have been exploring when the weather isn’t safe to come in. 

“I wonder sometimes if we could possibly use the distance learning model because everybody has access to devices now. Instead of making people come into school if it’s questionable, just defaulting to that would be good and lots of other schools are doing that now,” Opara said.

According to Osei, another main factor playing into the decision to have a snow day is inconveniencing parents and families. 

“When I think about some of our youngest learners in the district, (closing school) has significant implications for parents when they find out either the night before or early in the morning that their child’s not going to school,” Osei said. “We want to make sure that we’re not making decisions that are negatively impacting parents, guardians and caregivers’ ability to get to work right and provide for their families.”