By Brooke Kansier
A lot goes into calling a snow day.
At Waverly Schools, the district usually closes if there are six or more inches of snowfall, and automatically closes if wind chill is beneath 25 degrees below zero. The decision, however, is not normally so black and white.
“At 4:30 a.m., I consult with my Transportation Supervisor, she fills me in on the roads and the bus fleet,” said Waverly Superintendent Terry Urquhart, “I drive and check the roads myself and consult with the area superintendents to see what they are going to do.”
Waverly’s Transportation Department also plays a big part in checking the roads and sidewalks.
“We don’t sleep in wintertime. Transportation people are up all night checking roads and reporting to the Superintendent,” said Rhonda Sosnowski, transportation director for Waverly.
The record low last month was 13 degrees below zero, not considering wind chill, When you add in record amounts of snowfall in the Lansing area, it is not hard to see why schools are having a difficult time.
“This has been a tough winter for us,” said teacher Lance Berrier, a business teacher at Waverly High School.
According to the National Weather Service, this past month’s snowfall set a record of the 15th snowiest January in Lansing history. The greatest snow depth was 17 inches, with 40 inches total snowfall.
“There’s been so much snow, we don’t know where to put it anymore,” said Sosnowski.
The district has used seven of its state-allotted six snow days per year. These missed days have had a very taxing effect on staff and students alike.
“We had less preparation time before exams because of the snow days,” said Berrier.
“Teachers and students both get frustrated. Teachers have timelines and objectives to meet, too much time off can be negative. But you have to keep everyone safe,” said Urquhart.
Currently, Waverly has one day to make up. According to Berrier, there are a couple potential options the district could employ to make up for this lost time.
“Some kind of forgiveness could be extended, or they could add minutes to school days, or extra days at the end of the year,” he said.
The district will have plenty of catching up to do, particularly because more weather-related cancellations are likely this winter.
“The plan for make-ups comes from a collaboration between the district and its bargaining groups. Nothing will happen until we get through winter,” said Urquhart.