By Sammy Bonasso, ’20
All Upper Arlington students have received Superintendent Paul Imhoff’s 5 a.m. calls cancelling or delaying school due to poor weather, and many respond joyously. However, not everyone understands the process behind making the decision to cancel school.
One of Paul Imhoff’s early January blog posts detailed how the district decides cancellations and delays to prepare families. Firstly, he emphasized that although district officials greatly value students attending class when scheduled, they place safety first and foremost.
“If it’s snowy or icy, district officials will be out driving around Upper Arlington early in the morning to check the condition of the roads,” Imhoff said. “As far as the impact of temperatures and the wind chill, we generally think about canceling school when the sustained wind chill is around minus 22 degrees.”
Imhoff and his operations team that make the decision wake up especially early on days with poor weather, and they collaborate with city officials and the police division. Imhoff separately consults weather reports, weather experts and other superintendents, making his final decision by 5:00 or 5:30 a.m.
Imhoff and his team do not always wait until the morning, either. Imhoff wrote in his blog post that they “try to make [the] decision of whether or not to hold classes as early as possible in the morning or even the night before to give [UA] students and families time to make alternate plans.”
Beyond Imhoff’s calls, citizens can hear news of delays or cancellations on the UA Schools website, Facebook and Twitter, as well as through local TV and radio stations.
Imhoff recognizes the consequences of snow days, or the absence of them, as potentially severe. Firstly, as evident by his focus on student safety, he understands that holding school during suboptimal weather could result in dangerous road or walking conditions.
Imhoff said that while “[it] does cost money to run a school district no matter what the weather is, [the] decision to hold or cancel school is always based on safety and not finances.”
As less-important outcomes, he considers educational time and also after-school activities. He noted that the elementary and middle schools always cancel their activities on snow days while the high school seeks to still hold them.
With 2018’s colder weather and increased snowfall, students and families find snow days more relevant than in recent years. Understanding the process and consequences behind these decisions allows families to make certain the choices are thorough and prepares them in the event of a snow day.
“It can be a challenge to get up that early, but it’s usually hard to sleep when you know there is the threat of bad weather that may impact school,” Imhoff said.