How Much Snow Do You Usually Need To Get A School Closing?

By Jay White

May 15, 2014   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

<p>Stories told by parents and grandparents of trudging through five miles of giant snowdrifts and icy conditions to attend school during the winter months might suffer from a touch of exaggeration as parents try to get their children to school on wintry mornings. The truth is that generations of school children have benefitted from school district officials making decisions to close schools on the basis of what they consider to be the best interest of the safety of students, teachers and staff.</p>
<p>Mandatory Length of School Year</p>
<p>School districts operate under state mandates requiring students to have a predetermined number of days of instruction for each school year. New York requires that all school districts in the state offer 180 instructional days during each term while other states require fewer days. For example, Missouri requires that its schools be in session for 174 days each year. Winter months can create problems for school districts across the country as excessively cold temperatures, snow and ice storms, or flooding caused by excessive rainfall can create unsafe conditions.</p>
<p>Snow Accumulation Factor</p>
<p>There are many factors that school officials take into consideration in determining if weather conditions justify the closing of schools. Because the primary concern is safety, there is no formula or rule regarding the amount of snow that will result in a decision to close schools. Frequently, the ability of municipalities to clear roads is more important than the amount of snow. Three inches of snow in Maine would probably not be a major concern because road crews have the equipment available to provide safe conditions for school buses and other vehicles. The same amount of snow in a southern state such as Georgia could lead to a decision to close schools simply because snow clearing equipment is not as readily available.</p>
<p>Ice Storms</p>
<p>One reason school districts do not adhere to a hard and fast rule on snow accumulation and school cancellation is that winter weather can play havoc with even the best thought out rule. A mere dusting of snow might not be enough to force a school closing decision, but the ice under the snow might be a safety concern that could lead school district transportation officials to decide to keep buses off the roads completely or, at the very least, to delay the opening of schools to allow the ice to melt.</p>

Jay White

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