ST. LOUIS — School administrators across the bi-state are in the midst of making one of the toughest decisions: school or snow day.
While students are crossing their fingers for a day off from school, district leaders are weighing several factors to determine if they will cancel classes.
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Assistant Superintendent Ryan Boike is responsible for roughly 3,900 students in Belleville District 118.
"We’ll be driving the roads tonight at 9,10 11 o'clock tonight,” Boike said.
“We are an elementary district and we always worry about our kiddos wait at the bus stop."
He said each storm is different, but administrators’ top priority remains the same.
"We always error on the side of safety,” Boike said.
Across the river in the Rockwood School District, Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost uses information from the National Weather Service and MoDOT to make his decision.
"Timing is always the most important,” Knost said.
“Four to five inches that ends at 5 p.m., we have all night to have crews clean up. As long as MoDOT is on the roads."
Knost said the wave of compliments from students has already begun.
"There's a good chance that tonight my Twitter account will be trending because 21,000 students will be trying to convince me," Knost said.
Unfortunately for Rockwood students, Dr. Knost doesn’t give in to peer pressure.
"At this point in time, if I would look it's always complimentary and kind things being said. Like, I'm a superhero."
But if the storm blows over he will quickly become a villain.
“I can't even think of what those tweets would look like.”
5 On Your Side touched base with other districts across the area to see what their Snow Day protocols are:
Fort Zumwalt School District:
The superintendent, deputy superintendent, and transportation director are out on the roads about 3 AM assessing conditions. The superintendent makes the decision. Buses begin their first routes about 5:45 AM, so the decision is usually made by 5:30 AM. When a whole day of school is missed for weather, it must be made up later in the school year.
Mehlville School District:
Procedure depends on the time the winter weather will start. The superintendent and transportation director drives the road early in the morning to determine road conditions. They use this information combined with the forecast to decide whether to cancel school. Communication is sent to staff and families by 5 AM. They have two snow days built into the calendar that they don’t have to make up.
Parkway School District:
The superintendent determines if school will be canceled and it is decided by 5 AM, families would be notified around 5:15 AM. They prefer to give families at least a two-hour notice. Most of the time canceling school the night before is something they can’t do. This year, students are slated to attend school for 178 days and the state requires 174 days. If they go over four snow days, they have additional days built into the school calendar.
Collinsville Community Unit School District #10:
The district will make the call about delaying or closing school based on reports from their bus company, weather reports and information gathered from staff and municipal employees who are out driving and assessing road conditions in all parts of the school district. The ultimate decision is made by the superintendent. The decision to cancel school due to weather is made as soon as weather forecasts indicate hazardous conditions are a probability and the cut off time is no later than 6 AM. IL School Code mandates 176 days of pupil attendance. The CUSD #10 calendar, indicating an end date of June 3, includes 10 emergency days. If those days are not used, the school year end in mid-May.
Wentzville School District:
When the forecast is calling for possible inclement weather overnight, the superintendent goes out at 3 AM to assess the roads. If there has been snow or ice overnight, he notifies the transportation director, assistant superintendent of administrative services, and CFO. They all have routes across the 90-square miles of the District that they drive to assess road conditions. The transportation director also follows MoDOT to assess the conditions, temperatures and the forecast in order to make a call as to whether or not school will be canceled or delayed to give time for conditions to improve. The superintendent aims to make the call by 5 AM so that families and staff are notified as quickly as possible. The District is required to make (up to) ten snow days and those are built in as possible days at the end of the school year.