Area school districts face tough decisions when it comes to weather

Area school districts face tough decisions every winter when it comes to cancellations due to storms.

Posted: Feb 11, 2019 11:21 AM
Updated: Feb 25, 2019 10:41 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— Area school districts face tough decisions every winter when it comes to cancellations due to storms.

The weather has been a real challenge this winter," said Robert Sigrist, St. Joseph School District Director of Student Services. 

When a winter storm is projected to hit the area, school officials start planning for each scenario before it even hits. 

"Probably looking for two or three days in advance at least and starting to watch that weather to see if it's starting to come true or if the prediction is off," North Andrew superintendent Mark McDaniel said. 

And when school gets canceled, so does activities. 

"The last three weeks have been incredibly difficult with the weather, just making the adjustments and cancellations and stress is put on athletic directors, administrators, students, and family, opponents, it doesn't matter, everybody is affected when we've had weather as we have," Bishop LeBlond athletic director Michael Evans said. 

Each school district has to approach the situation differently, like up in Rosendale at North Andrew, a more rural school district. With not only being in communication in other districts around them, but North Andrew officials also go out and check several gravel roads and non-major roads. 

"Sometimes when the main blacktops are okay, but the gravel roads are slick or packed down and buses have trouble of getting through them for the safety and concern of students, we can't go on them, so we have to go to blacktop or hard surfaces only," McDaniel said. 

In St. Joseph, there's a lot of discussion and communication with district officials, as well as checking with the City's Street Department and going out and checking the roads themselves. 

With all the missed days, several school districts are going longer at the end of the year, but one thing that can't always be made up is activities.

"All of these cancellations are coming about the worst time of year because it's at the end of the season," Evans said. "Everyone is getting backed up, so that is the one nice thing about it. We're all in the same boat."

Whether it's canceling school or activities, each district makes the call with one thing mind. 

"Our primary concern is that we want to be wrong on the side of safe. We don't want to put our kids or our drivers, our bus drivers, anybody like that in a situation that creates something that we created to make them be in an unsafe situation," Sigrist said. 

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