Monday, February 2, 2015

Up Hill, Both Ways.

We've all heard it.  Some of us may have even SAID it.  Kids today seem to have it so easy.

Case in point:  at the end of second period, the principal announced an early dismissal.  This is the second time in two weeks that this has happened; both times, we stared, disbelievingly, out the window at a flurriless sky.  

WHY?

Today's explanation was provided, both in an email to the staff, and on the district website:   


"Due to the predicted drop in temperatures for this afternoon and evening and the threat of icy roads, the Donegal School District will be dismissing students early Monday, February 2. Secondary students (grades 7-12) will be dismissed at 1:30 p.m., and elementary students (grades K-6) will be dismissed at 2:30 p.m. All evening activities are cancelled. "

It seems that the very people, (ahem, weather forecasters),  for whom we had great disdain yesterday, have now been heard by the folks in the education world, and systematically dispatched big yellow buses all over the county more than an hour before our expected end of the day.

(Per NWS US National Weather Service State College PA
Rapidly Falling Temperatures M)ay Result In Hazardous Driving Conditions Today!
A Cold Front Crossing The Region Will Quickly Be Followed By Plummeting Temperatures Late This Morning Across The Northern Mountains And Laurel Highlands And Early This Afternoon In The Central Mountains And Susquehanna Valley. The Combination Of Wet Roads From Overnight Precipitation Along With The Rapidly Falling Temperatures May Result In Icy Conditions...Especially On Untreated Roads, Bridges, and Overpasses.
Motorists Should Be Alert For Rapidly Changing Weather And Road Conditions. Be Prepared For The Potential Of Icy Roads. Slow Down And Allow Extra Time When Traveling.
  

Yes, the World Has Changed.  Get Used to it!

It is appalling to me that the same individuals criticizing education, educators, and kids for their lack of intelligence or willingness to learn are the same individuals who pull out the "when I was a kid, we walked up hill in 15 feet of snow - BOTH WAYS", shaming the kids, bus drivers, administrators, teachers, and everyone else involved in the decision to close schools due to potentially bad weather.  (There's a pretty awesome blog entry here from an administrator worthy of consideration.)  

When you consider the litigious nature of society, and the potential for lawsuits naming school districts or bus companies, it's pretty easy to understand why erring on the side of caution has become the norm.  Closing a school is not something that can be done as simply as requesting buses on site.  All sorts of questions need to be answered:

1.  Did the cafeteria start cooking?  (Wasted food is unacceptable.)
2.  How long will it take to get the bus drivers from wherever they are BACK to their buses and then BACK to the school?  (Some of these folks work as bus drivers, have jobs in the middle of the day, and work as bus drivers in the afternoon.)
3.  Can the custodial staff maintain the parking lots, walkways, hallways, etc, keeping them safe for walkers and drivers?

The list goes on and on.

When administrators choose to close a district, or open it on a delay, it's because they've consulted with emergency management, custodial staff, administrative staff, local weather forecasters, the bus company, the local police, the National Weather Service, and building administrators. (I'm sure I left someone out!)

So today, as I left school in 45 degree weather, wondering when the predicted "flash freeze" was going to come, I casually stopped at the post office and grocery store.  Guess what?  When I came out of the grocery store, ONE HOUR after leaving school, the wind had picked up, and the temperature had plummeted to 22 degrees, with a windchill in the single digits.

If only society would stop being the experts, and trust the experts.....