Snow day calls sometimes miss the mark

| 19 Feb 2015 | 01:00

By Anya Tikka
— Snow days are often a tough call for school administrators. Cancel, and risk criticism when the predicted storm is a bust. Don't cancel, and risk criticism when an unexpected storm comes roaring in.

That's what happened on Monday, Jan. 26, the day before the blizzard Juno was expected to bury the region in snow and snuff out electricity.

When it started snowing at around 5:30 a.m. that day, Ed Sorton of Dingman’s Ferry turned around to go back home. He was surprised that schools in the district weren’t closed. He got home safely and decided, along with many other parents, to keep his kids home.

Reports of bad driving conditions were coming over the scanner, he said. Bus drivers were not happy. He heard on the scanner that at least one bus slid about 50 to 60 feet and had to turn back.

“Why didn’t they close the schools?” he wondered. "We were concerned for the many teachers and staff too who drive a long way to get to the school. As is, the bus drivers knew as soon as they dropped the kids off at school they had to turn right back to be there at 10:45 for pickup.”

'No incident'Marvin Eversdyke, Director of Support Services at Delaware Valley, said there were no incidents that day. He believes the incident Sorton heard on the scanner happened at about 7 a.m., when a bus driver stopped to get coffee with no students in the bus. The bus slid into a snow bank, and the driver was able to get out without help.

Sorton said, “I don’t know where they got the snowfall from. I got out to go to the bank at nine, and in half an hour, there was almost an inch on the road.”

The decision to open was based on the many weather forecasts that he and Superintendent John Bell watched before making their decision.

“The forecast on Monday was about an inch of snow in the morning, and about three in the afternoon,” said Eversdyke.

The district was ultimately open in the morning, sending middle and high school students home at 11 a.m., elementary students at noon.

“Everyone was home safe at 1:15 p.m.," he said.

Eversdyke explained how the district decides school openings or delays.

“The decision to close the school or delay opening is based on several weather reports Superintendent Bell and I follow," he said. "They include several national forecasts, including AccuWeather and, and I follow local ones as well. I also make calls to PennDOT (the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) and to the several Roadmasters in the district. Based on that, I go to Bell with recommendations to either have a two hour delay, or to close the school.”

After the decision is made, administrator Chris Lordi send out messages and phone calls out to families and faculty in the district.