Several school districts are playing it safe with the mix of snow and icy conditions outside by making the decision to operate on a 3-hour delay.
At least a dozen schools made the decision to push back the start time to provide more time for plow trucks to clear the roads and for commuters to make it to school on time.
In Naugatuck, there are several factors that go into the decision including: safety, which is always the first and most important consideration, loss of instructional time and family inconvenience and childcare issues.
The decision makes a huge difference between having a school day and having to cancel.
Naugatuck Public Schools contracts with a weather service meteorologist who coordinates conversations between districts. As soon as dangerous weather is forecast, the superintendent begins to monitor the weather and the advice of the meteorologist.
Coordination also plays a big role. The school district consults with the borough street department about plowing vendors who are able to clear the streets, sidewalks and school parking lots.
Another step is checking in with the custodial crew who work to clear and provide salt for the sidewalks for the schools.
Several questions are at the core of the decision: Are the roads, sidewalks, and parking lots safe?
Many school districts have teen drivers out on the roads before 7 a.m., often before the sun has time to melt the ice or snow. Buses begin before 6 a.m. so many school districts have to decide early if they are going to close or delay schools.
Jennifer Crooks is a band director at Oxford High School and mentions that the 3-hour delay option helps them stay on track with the calendar year.
“We still get the educational aspect in and the instructional time,” said Crooks. “We don’t have to make up the day, which is good, but also there’s a lot of events that happen at schools like tonight, we have a concert.”
Jennifer Badeau is a parent and school counselor and believes having at least half a day of school is crucial.
“I think it’s wonderful, it’s better than having a day off and making it up in June,” said Badeau. “The timing of the snow makes a big difference.”
Crooks also believe attending school on a three-hour delay helps them stay engaged in the classroom.
“We play a big impact in students lives and that educational piece,” said Crooks. “Missing a day of school and then having to come back the next day without having some kind of school, makes it a lot more difficult for them to engage.”
Two dozen school districts are operating on a 3-hour delay and hope the idea will lead to less accidents and more time for parents, students and faculty during their morning commute.