Snow day, snow delay, how do schools decide?

FALLS VILLAGE - At this time of year, there is always some, well, discussion of how the school district decides if there will be a snow day or a snow delay. So far this school year, there have been two snow days (which means that the last day of school has been pushed from June 11 to June 13).

Region One schools Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain decides whether the school will close for the day, close early or start late. In Connecticut, schools have only two choices. They can call for a 90-minute delay or they can close school for the entire day. Chamberlain starts checking weather reports at around 3 a.m. She looks at television news reports and the Internet and she also begins to get reports from the region’s six town crews. Even if all the main roads are free of snow and ice and are safe for travel, school will be delayed or canceled if those steep slopes and any treacherous back roads can’t be cleared before buses have to navigate them. High school students in the region are picked up as early as 5:30 a.m.

The roads also have to be safe for the bus drivers. If they can’t make it to the depot in time to start their rounds, school will be delayed.

Chamberlain also makes phone contact with officials in neighboring school districts. Some students in the Region One towns attend the Oliver Wolcott Technical School in Torrington instead of Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, for example, and they travel to that school on Region One buses that start their rounds at 5:30 a.m.

If it looks like all the town and state road crews can get the roads clear in time for buses to leave by 5:30 a.m., there will be a normal school day. If it looks like the roads can be clear within 90 minutes or less after the first buses have to leave, there will be a 90-minute delay. If the roads can’t be cleared in time for the buses to leave at 7 a.m., then there’s a snow day.

If school is going to close early, the decision is made by 11 a.m. and posted at the school’s Web site,

— Cynthia Hochswender


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