When Weather is Questionable, School Districts Grapple with Closures

March 05, 2018 10:21 PM

When classes are canceled at any of Minnesota's 535 school districts, the impact is widespread.

To cancel is a decision that superintendents of each district make. And it's a call they put a lot of thought into, says Gary Amoroso, of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. 


"No two storms are alike," he said. "It's based on intensity and timing of the snowfall."

RELATED: Heavy Snow to Taper, but Tuesday AM Commute Will Be Slick

On Sunday, when Minneapolis Public Schools made the rare call to cancel school even before the snow fell, other districts did the same thing about the same time, including St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin.

The closure thrilled Theo Murphy.  

He's a Minneapolis preschooler who spent the day instead playing outside with his dad, Kevin, and two siblings. They shoveled, built a fort and made a snowman. While Kevin Murphy enjoyed the day with his three little ones, the possibility of another day at home, not working, worried him. 

"How are we going to do this?" he said.

The storm-related struggle is real for other families with childcare and job concerns. And superintendents are aware of the disruption families could face.

They also keep in mind another issue. "Most school districts have a significant number of students who ride buses," Amoroso said. 

And if buses can't get around on snow-clogged roads, that can create other safety problems, such as what happened to St. Paul students in January.  

RELATED: Snow Days a Mixed Bag for Minnesota Businesses

Said parent Kristin Marker: "Perhaps administrators are overly cautious this time because it was such a fiasco the last time with kids getting home so late."

KSTP Chief Meteorologist Dave Dahl said he was surprised by the unprecedented precaution taken by administrators on Sunday. 

"It's very unusual in my 40 years," Dahl said. "I've never seen that happen before where that many schools closed before snow even started."

While smaller districts can decide to delay the start time of school by a couple of hours, larger ones like Anoka-Hennepin cannot, according to spokesman Jim Skelly. He says it's all or nothing because of the district's complex transportation issues.

As for what will happen Tuesday in Minneapolis for the Murphy family, "We'll have to wait and see," Kevin Murphy said.

The Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts plan to announce by 5:30 a.m. Tuesday the status of classes.


Beth McDonough

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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