Kids were going to school in the cold in Ohio for a long time

Since when is cold weath- er an anomaly in northeast Ohio? Without so much as a skiff of snow and dry roads, it appears that the lack of extreme winter weather has area schools desperate to implement a “snow day.” Low temperatures on partly sunny days hardly merit a weather emergency. I’d understand if buses couldn’t start or pipes were bursting in schools, but that’s certainly not the case. And our children seem to be out and about handling the weather just fine — note the front page photo of Boardman students ice skating at the Ice Zone.

It’s not as if there’s no accommodation for the parent who is concerned about the weather. Per school policy (in Canfield), the parent has full discretion as to whether they keep their child home. “If on any day, you feel the weather is too extreme for your child to attend, you may keep your child home. Please send a note with your child and he/she shall be excused” (Alex Geordan, Superintendent, Canfield Schools, Nov. 12, 2012, letter posted on the school website). Many parents drive their children to school. Our children ride the bus and rarely spend more than 5 minutes outside waiting for their admirably prompt school bus. On an unusually cold day, I’m sure that parents can make good decisions for their child.

Let’s put this in a larger perspective — academics and child care. With an ever-shrinking academic calendar it’s extremely important that students get as much instructional time as possible during their 174 days in class. Unnecessary school closures are disruptive to a nine month school calendar already peppered with teacher instructional days, holidays and field trips.

Further, as a working parent, arrangements for child care on unexpected snow days are expensive and burdensome. In a working family, if a neighbor or other family member isn’t readily available to watch the kids, either one parent loses a day’s work or puts the child(ren) in child care which can cost upwards of $45 per day.

And what of the fact that teachers clamor for more time to grade papers and prepare lessons, however, the school parking lots on these paid work days are empty. When driving safety is not an issue, where is the paid staff? School athletes, coaches and their fans seemed to be able to make their way to the schools for evening basketball games just fine.

When schools approach the community requesting levy tax increases, I will keep this all in mind. Is the school putting my child’s academic success first? Is teacher and staff pay commensurate with the days worked and results achieved? Has the school been a prudent steward of the funds we the community provide?

Reserve weather emergencies for severe weather events. Let parents make responsible decisions as to whether to keep their child home if they feel their health or safety are in question. For these reasons and first and foremost for the future success of our school age children, I encourage all of our area educators to keep the schools open. Otherwise, what’s next —rain days?

Julie C. Van Devender, Canfield