School closures and late start school days


Snow days are one of the most common reasons for school closures. Image: Flickr / bigblackbox / CC-BY-SA

Around the country, many students are hoping to hear the words “snow day.” Emergency school closures are usually called for the safety of students. School closures can be more complicated than many people realize, however.

School closures for safety

School districts usually make decisions about school closures for student safety. Heavy snow, cold temperatures, and even excessive rain can all be reasons for school closures. The threshold for what constitutes bad enough weather for school closures differs for school districts. In some areas, just a little bit of ice on the roadways can mean school closures. In other areas that are more accustomed to snow, it could take a foot or more of snow to trigger school closures.

Keeping informed of school closures

School closures represent a range of challenges for school districts, parents and children. The decision to have a school closure or a delayed start is often made as early as 4 or 5 a.m. Schools have to inform the parents of their students of the school closures as quickly as possible. Some school districts subscribe to electronic school closure notification systems such as ESD101 and to help inform parents of school closures. Most often, radio stations and news stations are informed of school closures, so check your local media for the list of closures.

The problem of school closures

School closures for any reason are a difficult decision for any administrator to make. In the United States, the average school year is 180 days – a full 12 days shorter than England and 63 days shorter than Japan. Some United States schools are considering cutting the school week down to 4 days to save on costs. Less time in school may harm student performance – so school closures are never undertaken lightly. For the most part, too many school closures due to weather mean extra days have to be added to the school year at the end of the term. How do you think school closures should be handed?


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