Deciding When To Close School, Part 1


By Brian Neudorff

Magic Valley, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) When the snow flies or temperatures drop, area schools have a tough decision to make, whether or not to cancel classes.

Meteorologist Brian Neudorff talks with area school districts to find out how they make the decision to close school due to weather.

When snow is in the forecast, the most popular question our weather authority team gets asked is, "Are we going to have a snow day?" The decision to cancel school comes from the area school districts.

Dr. Wiley Dobbs, Twin Falls School District Superintendent, explains, "We work real closely with our bus company and in the morning, very early in the morning 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, we're looking at conditions, and we're in conversation with the manager of the bus company to determine whether or not the buses are going to be safe that morning."

Ted Wasko, Kimberly School District Director of Transportation, adds, "We'll watch the weather and see what the morning’s going to bring and what we can expect, and what usually cancels school for us is the wind; significant amount of snow with a lot of wind will drift the road closed and the highway district is not able to keep them open for us."

It's not just snow that can close or delay school; there are other winter weather factors that play a role.

Dobbs says, "If it is too cold for the kids to be outside that could be a factor, another factor could be ice under the snow. If it rains, then it freezes, then there's snow, that could cause the conditions to be more dangerous. So we look at all those things. It's common on a day like that for me to be out 4, 5, 6 in the morning driving around testing the conditions myself to see how it is first hand."

Depending on the weather forecast and conditions, the decision to close school can be made the night before, but no later than six o'clock in the morning.

Dobbs points out, "I've been Superintendent for over a decade now, and it's been very rare that we've had to have a snow day. The kids would say none, but I think there's been three or four."

Wasko says, "We probably have averaged maybe one snow day a year; there's been a year where I believe we had three snow days and then there's years we haven't had any."

Weather conditions are not always the same from the Magic Valley to the Wood River Valley.

Friday, meteorologist Nick Kosir looks at how the Wood River region school districts decide to close school, in part two of our school closing series.

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