Several factors considered in D-302 snow day policy

By on February 19, 2010

by Brittany Larsen
Kaneland Krier Reporter

When is it too cool for school?

The question has recently been asked by Kaneland High School students who drive to school down icy roads or shiver at bus stops.

The school “is kind of strict because roads are bad, and there are a lot of accidents,” freshman Dan Goress said.

“My bus took a sharp turn and it slid, and it freaked everyone out. The roads are really unsafe (in winter),” freshman Jordan Ginther said.

Several factors go into deciding when to call a snow day. Sheer accumulation and whether the roads and parking lots will be plowed in time are two. Visibility and wind also affect this decision, Superintendent Charles McCormick said.

A cold day can also be called when the temperature is -40 degrees or below, with windchill, McCormick said.

The size and location of the district are also factors.

“Our district is unique because of how many students we have driving on open country roads,” McCormick said.

To determine whether there’s a snow day, certain people drive on predetermined routes east and west of the school, on all directions of roads, at 4:30 a.m. Between 5 and 5:15 a.m., the drivers and administrators discuss road conditions and decide whether to call a snow day by 5:30 a.m., said Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent of business.

If a snow day is called, the district uses a phone system called Blackboard Connect, which calls students’ homes. The district selects the group to call, which on a snow day is every person in the system, and the system sends the message to employees and students. In 10 to 12 minutes, the system can make 8,000 phone calls—it calls the first three phone numbers listed in every student’s file, McCormick said.

Other schools’ decisions are not usually a factor, but administrators find out because of the Fox Valley Career Center, Fuchs said.

Snow days must be made up, so the school then adds a day to the end of the year for every snow day, for up to five days. After that, there is a waiver from the state, McCormick said.

Student activities on snow days vary.

“I usually go outside and build snowmen with my little brother,” junior Athina Ajazi said.

Some students take a different approach—Goress said he takes the opportunity to sleep in.

Photo: Icy conditions and snow accumulation are just two of the factors that go into determining whether or not District 302 cancels school on a particular day.
Photo by Patricia Lassandro