By Ed Runyan
and EMMALEE C. TORISK
Temperatures are expected to reach almost 50 degrees in the Mahoning Valley later this week, but residents must first endure another wintry whack from Mother Nature.
About 3 to 4 inches of snow were expected between Monday evening and this morning, with any lingering precipitation concluding by 11 a.m. today, said Mark Adams, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
As for the rest of today, the area will be “drying out” and could “maybe even be seeing some sun popping out in the after- noon,” Adams added, explaining that there’s also a small chance of snow with little accumulation early Wednesday.
The latest storm brings the onus once again of whether school will be canceled today.
For the latest cancellation lists, parents should visit Vindy.com or WFMJ.com.
Matthew Bowen, superintendent of Campbell City Schools, said Monday afternoon that despite a snow-filled forecast, it was too soon to determine whether classes would be canceled today — as is typically the case. The only exception, Bowen added, is when the forecast calls for “extreme conditions that are unlikely to change,” such as wind chills of minus 20.
Bowen said canceling classes is always a tricky “judgment call” and a decision that is different from one school district to another.
For Campbell schools, he must consider the large number of students who walk to school, along with the city’s geography, which includes a few impassable hills. “No two school districts are alike,” he said.
Also Monday afternoon, Joseph Nohra, superintendent of Struthers City Schools, said he planned to evaluate the roads at 3 and 5 a.m. today to determine whether to cancel classes. Bowen said he planned to assess the morning’s conditions in a similar fashion.
Though Struthers schools already used seven calamity days — the state allots five for each school year — Nohra explained that he doesn’t base his decision on this figure. Instead, he prefers to “err on the side of caution.”
Michael Notar, Warren superintendent, said “it’s the toughest part of the job — deciding.”
The Warren district has had a longstanding policy of keeping the schools open as long as temperature or wind chill does not fall to minus 10, Notar said.
“At minus 10 or close to minus 10, I start considering” school cancellation, Notar said, adding that he usually talks with the superintendents in Niles and Youngstown because the number of students in those communities who walk to school is similar to Warren.
Notar said Trumbull County superintendents recently discussed temperature-related school cancellations at a superintendents meeting and gave some consideration to using a wind chill of minus 14 as the benchmark instead of minus 10.
One reason why minus 10 is used is because research indicates unprotected skin can suffer frostbite at minus 15 after 30 minutes, Notar said.
The Warren Board of Education recently proposed to the Ohio Department of Education that it be allowed to use three “blizzard bag” days to make up school days with take-home work if the school district uses more calamity days than the state allows. The state approved the idea, but right now the school system is waiting to see whether the Ohio Legislature will allow all public schools to increase their number of missed days from five to nine.
Warren schools have missed nine days so far.
Diana M. Colaianni, nursing director for the Mahoning County Health District, said area superintendents sometimes consult with the health department regarding school cancellations, but the decision remains with the superintendents.
As for parents, she advises them to consider each child’s circumstances.
“With so many kids, with asthma, you have to be careful. In some situations, parents should consider keeping the kids at home,” she said.
The remainder of the week should be snow-free and will “warm up quite a bit,” said Eric Wilhelm, chief meteorologist at 21 WFMJ-TV.
By Wednesday, the temperature likely will be up to 40 degrees, while Thursday’s and Friday’s temperatures will hover around 50. Rain also is likely, with thunderstorms possible by the end of the day Thursday, Wilhelm added.