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School district considers late start instead of snow days

School officials say the district is considering delaying the start of the school day instead of canceling classes for winter weather.

Posted: Nov 18, 2019 12:10 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Students in the St. Joseph School District may need to wish a little bit harder for a snow day in the future.

School officials say the district is considering delaying the start of the school day instead of canceling classes for winter weather.

Last school year, St. Joseph public schools canceled school for weather and racked up at least 9 snow days. Schools making-up nearly two weeks' worth of classes last Spring, has led to discussions about how to limit snow days this year, said St. Joseph Superintendent Doug Van Zyl.

That’s a departure from the all-or-nothing way the school district typically approached snow days in the past. Before the district watched as winter weather sidelined schools forcing them to watch as snow days piled up.

Lee's Summit and Liberty school districts added the option of a two-hour delay this year after parent feedback.

“I won’t say that’s a trend that districts are going towards because most districts already have something like that in place,” said Van Zyl.

St. Joseph schools are now considering adding the option of a two-hour delay into the district’s inclement weather policy.

The multiple snow days were disruptive to the educational programming for students, teachers and staff, said Van Zyl.

Roads were cleared hours after school officials announced a snow day last year.

On some of the snow days last year, the weather turned out less menacing than predicted, and the schools could have stayed in session, said Van Zyl.

Starting later would give crews more time to clear streets, sidewalks, and parking lots, and it would give school officials more flexibility to watch roads before calling off school, officials said.

The district said another reason school was canceled was because of super cold mornings with sub-zero wind chills which may have been avoidable with a delayed start.

“The safety of our students and staff would still be a top priority,” Van Zyl said. “This would be just another tool in our tool belt.”

The possibility of late starts could get a frosty reception from students, who covet cancellations. Snow days can turn into a day of sledding, building snowmen or just lounging at home.

For more detailed information about the St. Joseph School District’s late start poll, you can view the poll here.

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A line of thunderstorms will push through northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas Sunday afternoon. Some of these storms may be strong with large hail and heavy rain being the main threats. Fall-like weather will usher into the area Monday with highs mainly in the 60s and no hazardous weather expected through the week. The area could see its first frost overnight Friday/Saturday.
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