Dear Ace: The kids’ so-called winter break ended recently, and it got me wondering about snow days. No, not will we ever see the frosty precipitation again (I saw An Inconvenient Truth!), but, in the event that it’s coming down outside, who decides when to call a snow day and how do they make the decision?—Cab N. Fevre
Dear Cab: Ace feels you. When he sits down with a piping mug of Irish cider to watch the snow fall and read the new Richard Ford, the last thing Ace needs is a gaggle of shrieking, ruddy-cheeked kids flinging melting snowballs at the house. Ace reckons that might be part of why he’s never taken the plunge into the life of a family man, but that’s a whole different column.
Teams of adults get together in the middle of the night to decide if school’s off—on those now rare occasions when it snows.
Back to the subject at hand, Cass Cannon, community relations specialist for the Charlottesville City Schools, tells Ace that in the city, “school closings are collaboratively determined between school staff and City staff since the City handles bus transportation and maintenance for the school facilities.” Charlottesville’s departments of transportation and administrative services sit down to talk about road conditions and weather reports, with the ultimate goal of deciding if the buses can run. They take their verdict to CCS Superintendent Rosa Atkins, who makes the final call. If bus routes are clear, school’s in—though possibly starting an hour or two late. If not, snow day.
The County has a similar system in place: If the weather turns nasty, starting at 3am, the Albemarle Transportation Department Road Assessment Team is already out patrolling school bus routes to check for slick spots, says Christy Sinatra, communications coordinator for Albemarle County Public Schools (you might say Ms. Sinatra is chairman of the board when it comes to communications coordination!. Ace will wait for your groans to subside). By 5am, the Road Assessment Team delivers a report to the County director of transportation, who gives a recommendation to Pamela Moran, your friendly County schools superintendent. As with Ms. Atkins, it’s ultimately up to her to make the decision.
Ace can just tell that his younger readers are getting excited by all this talk of snow days. Well, don’t forget this, kiddies: The City and County schools both have policies in place to eventually make up at least the first eight days missed.