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“Why is school closed? I don’t see any snow!” A guide to winter-weather-related school closings

When school is closed for a “snow day”, it doesn’t always mean that there are blizzard-like conditions outside. In fact, school may be closed or delayed when there isn’t even a trace of snow in the air. Many people envision snow-related conditions as the only hazard to student safety during the winter months, however, cold temperatures may be equally as hazardous and may impact the district’s decision to keep schools open.

When very cold weather strikes, the superintendent of schools may determine that school should be delayed or closed for the safety of the district’s students and staff.

There are no “rules” for delays or closings; those decisions are up to each local school district. Monticello Central School District (MCSD) uses a set of internal weather guidelines to help determine whether temperatures are safe to hold classes. We rely on guidance from the National Weather Service to make our decisions. These guidelines take into account the amount of time it takes for exposed skin to develop frostbite based on the wind chill and temperature. Click here to view a National Weather Service (NWS) brochure on wind chills to learn more.

Typically, when wind chills are in the light blue area of the chart, school is not delayed. Of course, other factors may also be considered (such as snow or bus problems), but these parameters provide a general guide.

It is important to note that the district covers a large geographical area, so while it may not be snowing in one part of the district; it could be very snowy or icy in another.

When temperatures do not warrant closing, families can help their children prepare for the weather by dressing them warmly, in layers, with a hat, scarf, gloves and appropriate footwear.

In order to ensure that students and staff are protected from the cold, the district makes adjustments to normal operating procedure during the winter months:

• Our transportation team begins preparing district buses as early as 4 a.m. to make sure the engines start and heaters work so that students have a warmer ride to school. Drivers are careful to arrive at bus stops as close to the scheduled pick-up time as possible.

• Each schools’ custodial and maintenance staff checks each classroom to ensure that the temperatures are comfortable and are on standby in order to respond as quickly as possible to any potential facilities issues.

• Recess and all physical education activities are held indoors.

Additionally, each winter storm brings its own unique set of challenges, which district officials take into account when deciding whether to open school on time. Behind each decision is a delicate balance of educational and safety priorities, first-hand observations and weather forecasts.

Parents who deem roads unsafe for travel due to weather should use their own judgment and bring their child to school later.
Instructional time is crucial to ensuring our students’ academic success, but the safety of our students is always the district’s number one priority. We hope that this information is helpful for our community to know more about our decision-making process surrounding delays and closures during the winter season.

For more information about the school’s weather-related decisions, please call the Secretary/Administrative Assistant at the Superintendent's office at 845-794-7700, ext. 70511.