Our intense winter weather has had schools closing left and right this week and some parents are wondering how do schools make the call to cancel class?
Like many Northern Michigan districts, Traverse City Area Public Schools tells us the process of calling a snow day is a lengthy one.
It starts very early when bus drivers like Tyson Burch, Director of Transportation for TCAPS tells us, they wake up to personally check the roads, “We get up early in the morning around 2 a.m. we’re out on the roads about 3 a.m. We all have routes, there’s five of us that have routes for TCAPS.”
Then Burch says they will consult with other road and weather officials, “We meet back here at the bus garage at 4:30 a.m. and we collaborate with other school districts, the road commission, Gaylord national weather service, and then Dean transportation because they have buses out at that time.”
Finally Burch tells us they have to keep in mind certain weather factors that could make for a dangerous ride to school, “To see things like are there major snow drifts, does it seem like the plows have gone through, are road conditions very slippery, icy, how’s visibility,”
About 60 of these buses go out a day hauling somewhere between 50-60 kids.
Factor in all the stopping and going these buses do, and you can see why it’s so important for the roads to be clean.
“By calling a snow day we take a lot of cars off the road, we take a lot of traffic off the road and that makes the safe passage for everybody else who does need to go to work that day,” says TCAPS Director of Marketing and Communications, Christine Guitar.
It may be a safety issue, and a benefit to other people on the road, but Guitar reminds us the downside of a lost day is a loss for some students, “I think one thing that’s important for everyone to remember is that for a lot of our students school is a lifeline for them, it’s where they get breakfast and lunch, it’s where they’re warm for the day and taken care of”.
However at the end of the morning, Guitar says it always boils down to one thing, “We use all the information the we can to make the best decision to keep kids safe and so whenever we can get kids safely to and from school we’re gonna try to do that.”
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