MOUNT VERNON — When the weather is bad and road conditions may be hazardous, school districts may cancel for the day or call for a late start. Recently, schools in the area have experienced two-hour delays, which get mixed reactions from those affected.
Superintendents, along with their transportation directors, hit the roads very early on “questionable” mornings to get a firsthand feel of road conditions. A two-hour delay, implemented for safety reasons, may be called to give the Ohio Department of Transportation, and local road crews, time to plow and salt the routes on which students travel to school.
Although delays can be troublesome for parents with regard to work and childcare arrangements, from a school standpoint delays are more desirable than outright cancellation. Those “calamity days” have to be made up sometime within the school year.
“We would rather have kids in school now,” said Mount Vernon Superintendent Steve Short, “than have kids in school June 15, June 16 or June 17. It also gives the students some academic continuity.”
John Marschhausen, East Knox superintendent, concurred.
“If we used additional calamity days, we would be making up more days,” he said. “Last year, due to the windstorms, we had to make up days during winter (Presidents Day) and spring break. This made it tough on everyone. Those breaks are necessary for kids and teachers alike. Secondly, going later in June really limits the effectiveness of those days. Thirdly, with the state assessments in April, we want as many teaching days as possible prior to the state tests.”
News readers also shared their thoughts on the matter.
Mike Rowe doesn’t mind two-hour delays. “It does free the road from buses (having to stop for pick ups) and other school-related traffic so I can get to work with a little extra time to spare,” he said.
“I am against the continuous delays because of the reduction of valuable classroom time,” said Shirley Hughes. “The roads may be safer two hours after starting time, but I believe the drivers should be able to cope with those conditions. Working people still have to make it to work. I would opt for a complete day of canceled classes versus a two-hour delay. There are just too many of them!”
“Canceling school for the entire day is never the ‘best’ option,” one parent said, “unless weather just completely stops/inhibits all transportation.” She does feel the delays can be a bit of a problem, though.
“My children all go to Mount Vernon City Schools, both the high school and Pleasant Street,” she continued. “The child at Pleasant Street is not old enough to wait for the bus on his own. Some parents may allow an 8-year-old to wait, I don’t believe 8 is old enough. But, I do believe that there should be another option available. Why not allow those kids who are able to get to school the chance to arrive by their normal time, and be allowed to sit in the gym or library until school begins? Who wouldn’t be able to benefit from a little extra time in the library? Could even count toward a little extra credit?”
Dave H. thinks the delays are a good thing. “I think though,” he said, “that they need to be called earlier so as to give the parents time to plan. If the roads could be bad, call in a delay. Better safe than sorry.”