How Does the Anne Arundel County School System Determine Weather Related Closures?
The decision to close schools, including an early closure or delayed arrival, depends on many factors.
After speaking at length with Bob Mosier, public information officer with Anne Arundel County Schools, I was enlightened to hear how the process worked.
In terms of an early dismissal, the county relies on the weather prediction for the day taking into account that it usually takes four hours to safely transport all 75,000 students home.
It’s not always as easy as waiting until the snow starts before making a decision to close early knowing it takes a few hours to get everyone safely dismissed and home. If the weather calls for deteriorating conditions early, the school system must take into consideration how long it takes to get everyone safely home.
Deciding to close school depends on many variables. Again, taking into account the weather prediction and closely looking at what other school districts are doing are important items to consider.
The county also takes into consideration reports from its Transportation and Facilities Division. This is a team that is stationed throughout the county that can collaborate on road conditions. Once all of these factors are taken into consideration, a recommendation is turned over to the superintendent for final decision.
So why not cancel the night before if we see snow outside our windows? Well, it seems again that a lot of factors again go into play. In the case of last year’s blizzard, it was easy to say the night before those schools would remain closed based on the massive amount of snow we received and the fact that many roads had not seen a plow.
Ultimately, children need to walk on the sidewalks and if they are mounded over with snow, it’s not possible to get children to school safely. On the other hand, weather conditions could change drastically overnight so it seems prudent to wait and see how it pans out and make a decision in the morning.
Something else Mosier pointed out is that we have a county wide transportation system. One decision is made county wide, not by neighborhoods or jurisdictions, so the big picture must be considered when making a decision to close or delay school.
Mosier added that we have four snow days built into the 2010-2011 school year. Once these days are used, days will be added on to the end of the school year. For the 2011-2012 school year, the Board took this language out and will have the flexibility to alter spring break if necessary.