December 8, 2023

How the Decision to Hold or Cancel an Event on a Snow Day is Made

Answers to some commonly-asked questions about how and why we decide to hold/cancel events during a Snow Day

As we had our first snowfall this week, I thought I would write an extension of my earlier Snow Day decision article and include the information of how we handle practices, extracurricular events, and meetings when school has been closed due to weather. While not as controversial as closing school, there is a similar process, and this would be a good time to answer some commonly asked questions about how and why we decide to hold/cancel events during a Snow Day.

Who makes the decision?  Not to displace blame, but this is also a group decision.  We typically meet in the morning, after the day has been called off with our Central Office staff, Transportation Supervisor, Maintenance Supervisor, Athletic/Recreation Directors, and any key coaches/directors, etc. Why do they need to be involved?  Because they have all communicated with their coaches, staff, parents, drivers, etc. to get needed information to help make the decisions.

How do we make the decision?  We have to consider multiple considerations, like temperature, ice, snow amount, wind chill, etc.  Can we clean up the parking lots in time for people to attend an evening event safely?  Can the sidewalks be cleared, or is the temperature so low that salt cannot melt the current amount of ice. Will there be poor conditions by the time the event is over, affecting safe travel home?

We also have to look at the event and consider other information.  Is this an event that student drivers will be traveling to, like a HS practice, or is it adults driving to a Daddy-Daughter Dance?  If this is an Athletic Event, is the Host school still holding the event?  Do the bus drivers feel that they can be safe to travel?  If we are Hosting, do we feel that it is safe for that team to travel? Is this an event that has sold tickets, and can we reschedule? Or if we hold the event, will enough people attend for it to be successful?

On the other side, the weather in the morning commute might have been terrible, but it clears completely by 12:00. We then may be able to host events safely, without any concerns.  We would always like to continue to hold our scheduled events, if it is safe to do so.  We also communicate with teams/groups that may want to hold a rehearsal or practice earlier in the day, so they can drive while it is light out.  We do have to schedule accordingly, but we try to accommodate when it is possible.

Why not err on the side of caution and just call the event off if there is any concern?  The answer to that has many factors as well.  What if this is an event that cannot be rescheduled, and affects the students negatively? We don’t want any missed opportunities for student performances, or games that could affect a team’s record. School sponsored events are an important part of a positive school experience, so we try to keep to the planned schedule if it is safe.

Why not keep the event open and then cancel if there is an issue?  Two main reasons for not doing this: Communication and Supervision.  If we don’t call in a reasonable amount of time, then it affects our ability to communicate out to the community.  It is terrible when a parent takes the time and risk to drive to an event that has been closed.  Or if a parent doesn’t know that the event has been closed, they may drop off a student, and that student is stuck there until the parent can turn around and come to pick them up.  Students who walk to events may walk in rough weather conditions, only to find out when they arrive that the event has been cancelled. We try to always make the call, with the information we have, so that the communication is clear and timely.

Why did they close/not close?  It is fine/terrible by me? The answer to this is the exact same as the Snow Day call. This is the hardest part to answer, as one family can walk out and feel that the roads are fine by them, and others think it is awful.  Charlotte is a widely spread out district, with rural homes as well as in town residents.  Also, to be blunt, we could have made a bad call. To be sure that we are getting the information out there in a timely fashion, we may have had to make the call according to the information we had at the time, and suddenly the weather clears or gets worse. Michigan weather changes on a dime, and it can go from rain to ice in minutes.

How do I find out about event closings? We communicate in multiple ways about event closing information.  Local news stations, radio, school website/social media, skylerts are also useful for communication. In this case, you may be able to call the school/area for information, but also look for emails/calls, and check our website for information.

At Charlotte Public Schools, we want to have activities and events for the entire community.  Whenever it is safe to do so, we want our families involved at school, and enjoying time together!

Go Orioles! Oriole Pride!

Dr. Mandy Stewart
Superintendent- Charlotte Public Schools