As around-the-clock snow removal continues, teachers, students and parents in storm-bashed districts are learning whether their schools will be open on Monday, or if the unprecedented string of snow days will continue. Some districts already have announced they aren’t opening yet; others are taking it day by day.
And, although some districts will have used up all their built-in snow days by the time it’s all over, superintendents were clear that the 180-day state-mandated school year would not factor into their decisions about reopening. Universally, they made it clear the main issue now is the safety of the students and staff. The time will be made up later.
Alden Superintendent Adam Stoltman said he will decide by early this evening whether schools would open Monday, but that the cleanup was going well.
“We’re playing it by ear. We’re feeling pretty good regarding our own grounds and facilities, and I’m talking with town officials about their progress, and checking on sidewalks being open,” he said. “If we do open, it will probably be with a two-hour delay to make sure it’s light out for the kids. Safety is the priority.”
The Alden school calendar calls for classes Monday through Wednesday this week, with only two days off for Thanksgiving. Should the district need more snow days than it has built in, it already has make-up days on its calendar from the spring recess in April.
Stoltman said there are also are some superintendent’s days, when children are scheduled for classes that they could add back in.
A decision will be made today on whether Buffalo Public Schools will open on Monday. District spokeswoman Elena Cala said, “A few things have to happen before we can reopen. Our people are clearing the parking lots, and we need to have all the entrances and exits clear on all our schools. We’ve been working since Friday morning to get that done.”
About one-third of the district’s schools were affected by the storm. Cala said administrators also are conferring with city officials, especially about road conditions in areas still under a driving ban.
“Transportation and plant services are the two key elements on whether we will be able to open Monday,” Cala said. “We will most definitely know by (today) if that can happen.”
Depew had inspectors in district schools on Saturday and has not yet made a decision on whether school will resume Monday.
East Aurora schools are closed for students Monday; teachers and clerical staff are asked to report.
Eden School Superintendent Sandy Anzalone said Saturday she would wait one more day before deciding whether schools would open on Monday. Contractors are clearing district parking lots, and this afternoon, engineers were going to assess the safety of the buildings’ roofs, calculating the impact of the heavy snow and any rain that follows.
“I’ll have a much better idea tomorrow afternoon,” Anzalone said Saturday. She said school personnel have been inside all the buildings and have not found any system damage, so the main concern right now is the roofs.
She also said that, while the district had decided last week that it would open schools on Wednesday – originally a day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday – that could change if the schools can’t reopen Monday and Tuesday.
Students also were scheduled to be off on Dec. 10, but Anzalone said there will be classes that day. The schedule already called for schools to be open on Dec. 22 and 23, so those days cannot be used for make-up. Anzalone said the district has six snow days built into its calendar.
Frontier Superintendent Bret Apthorpe plans to announce this morning what the plans are for reopening the district’s schools, but there definitely will be no classes on Monday, although staff may be asked to report. For now, he wants people to know that the roofs are not falling in on district buildings – contrary to what has been seen in a photo making the rounds on social media. Apthorpe says all Frontier buildings are intact.
With the district’s RoboCall system down, Apthorpe is staying in touch with staff, students and parents through posts on the district’s home page, www.frontier.wnyric.org, and through Twitter, @frontiersupt.
On the site, he reports that the district’s structural engineers have determined the roofs, while still up, could be dangerous because of the excessive snowfall and that no one will be going into the buildings until the roofs are cleared.
He also announced that when schools do reopen, the first day will be for staff only.
Hamburg Central Schools has already put some plans in place, announcing Saturday that schools and offices will remain closed until Dec. 1. Students were scheduled to be off three days in the coming week anyway for the Thanksgiving holiday.
They will make up some of the time on Dec. 22 and 23, originally part of the two-week, midyear vacation.
While school facilities had been largely cleared of snow, the message to parents said, “there is concern about bus access in area neighborhoods and pedestrian safety.”
The situation remained pretty deep in Lackawanna on Saturday, when Superintendent Anne G. Spadone announced, “We’re still buried.”
School is canceled for Monday, when engineers have been tasked to check out the safety of the buildings, she said, and from there, “We’re taking it one day at a time.” She said some of the main roads in Lackawanna still have only one driving lane cleared and that no sidewalks are visible anywhere.
“I would be scared to have kids standing there waiting for a bus, or walking to school,” she said.
The district was originally scheduled for classes for three days before the Thanksgiving holiday as part of its 183-day official calendar.
“We have 179 days left,” Spadone said.
There are still a couple of superintendent’s days left in the calendar, she said, which could be used for classes before the district has to bite into vacation days.
“You never know what to expect,” she said, “but I never expected this to happen in November.”
Lake Shore school officials were asking community members to stay off the campus Saturday until engineers have inspected the buildings. Initial inspections show no visible damage.
Administrators are waiting to see how much progress is made on snow removal and on the final inspection results before deciding whether school will resume on Monday, or even this week. The district has contracted with three snow-removal services to clear 8 feet of snow from driveways, parking lots and sidewalks surrounding the schools.
Orchard Park Central School District announced Saturday evening that schools would be closed Monday.