The ultimate decision will always rest with the parent.
~ Scott Olinger, Superintendent
Winter in Indiana can bring many forms of weather that people often find unpleasant. Others find it difficult to navigate the roads under conditions that Hoosiers sometimes only experience every year or two.
But for a school superintendent, dealing with the uncertainties of changing, unpredictable weather and road conditions makes the decision about calling for a delay, or even a cancellation, a challenging task.
And usually, an unpopular choice.
In the space that follows, we’ll explain the rationale and thought processes behind the decisions we make.
While there is usually a frenzied excitement surrounding a winter weather event, the truth is that children love, and need, structure, including the structure that comes during a normal school day.
An oft-overlooked factor: when school is delayed or cancelled, parents face a difficult dilemma – who will care for the kids? All too often, children must stay home alone. And the dangers that accompany that scenario are far greater than traveling to and from school in the snow or cold weather.
School buses are heavy pieces of equipment, built to handle wide- ranging road conditions. And in Plainfield, town employees do an excellent job clearing the streets. Navigating the roads isn’t the issue here that it may be elsewhere.
Many districts must worry about buses that don’t start, or need longer to warm up. In Plainfield, our buses are plugged in to heaters at night, so they start without issue on even the coldest winter mornings.
Plainfield has fewer walking students than many districts. And many parents choose to take their children to and from school.
Some districts set their policy based on specific temperatures and wind chills. We look at each situation individually. Many times, temperatures don’t rise until later in the day, so delaying by two hours makes little (if any) impact.
Cold is cold. And Hoosiers have always had our fair share of cold days. Dressing children appropriately, with coats and hats and gloves, as opposed to shorts and tee-shirts, is the best way to ensure they stay warm.
When the forecast leads us to believe morning travel could be tricky, we plan ahead. Sometimes we make the call at night, but most often we do so in the morning. Members of our leadership team hit the roads early to assess conditions. Even though they are out before 5 a.m., things can change before the buses leave. But their assessment is vital to the decision-making process.
Dismissing school early is even trickier. Many parents can’t get home in time to meet their children when we have an early dismissal.
Notifications of delays and closings go out via School Messenger, websites, social media and local TV stations.
As a parent, you make the ultimate choice about what’s best for your child. If you feel we’ve made the wrong decision, you can certainly choose to keep your child home.
Elementary students WILL go outdoors for recess as long as the temperature is above 20 degrees and the wind chill factor is above zero. Children should come to school dressed appropriately for outdoor play.