How do schools decide to cancel class due to weather? - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

How do schools decide to cancel class due to weather?

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It is the question we get asked most often on days where the weather gets bad. "Why didn't my school issue a delay or closing?"

ABC21 talked with school officials to find out how they make the big call.

All school districts have criteria for deciding whether to delay or even close schools. Two factors come into play in making those decisions; temperature and road conditions.

Before 5:30 in the morning, district administrators consult with their transportation leaders, drive the roads, use various weather sources and even check with each other before deciding what to do. 

Early Wednesday morning temperatures dropped fast after some overnight rain, turning streets into sheets of ice. Keeping an eye on ice is a priority for Director of Transportation for East Allen County Public Schools Dave Myers.

"Ice presents a whole different animal to us because you don't know whats underneath it," Myers said.

When conditions look like they might be bad he wakes up before bus drivers come in to test drive the roads.

"When we make our decisions we are pretty confident in what we do," Myers said, "we aren't hedging on anything, we aren't flipping a coin or anything."

All Allen County Public School districts talk to each other using radios, sharing details about how streets look and how safe it is for students to get to class.

"Getting kids to school safety takes all precedence," Myers said.

The deadline for East Allen to make a decision is 5:30 am, before buses begin their routes.

On Wednesday, Northwest Allen County scrambled to keep up with changing road conditions.

The district made the decision around 6:30 am to delay middle and high schools due to dangerously slick roads. However, elementary school buses were already all out, so those classes stayed on schedule.

This move upset some people on social media who felt the district put students in danger.

One parent tweeted "please cancel. I live far away and I'm absolutely terrified to drive to school in these conditions."

Another tweeted "so many lives are at danger today because they have to drive to school in conditions like this."

We reached to Northwest Allen County Schools for an interview about what happened Wednesday morning and if they had any plans in the works for Friday morning. They turned down our request for an interview saying they felt "targeted" by our report.

Fort Wayne Community Schools post an infographic on its Facebook page Wednesday explaining how it issues closings or delays. The school district said it respects parent's decision if they think it is too dangerous to drive them to school.

"Weather conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly, which is why we allow parents to keep their children home with an excused absence if they feel conditions are not safe for travel," the post read.

If parents decide to keep their child home, they need to call the school to notify them the student will be absent because of weather.

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