It’s always easier to be part of the group. This morning (1/26/15) Worthington Schools made the decision to go to school on a two-hour delay when most of our surrounding school districts chose to close. (Upper Arlington, Bexley and Grandview also chose to go to school.) There is no simple formula for determining whether school should be open, delayed or closed. It’s ultimately a judgment call. Here’s what happened this morning…..
Our transportation director, George Sontag and I both were out driving Worthington and Columbus roads by 4:30 A.M. We talked at 4:45 A.M. and both felt like roads were snow covered but the snow packed and we were both moving fairly easily. We both thought a two-hour delay may be the way to go but were not ready to make the call. We knew Columbus had already decided to close for the day.
I spoke with the Superintendents of Dublin, Hilliard, Westerville and UA. Dublin was struggling with their northern most roads in Jerome Township. Hilliard and Westerville also worried primarily about their township roads. Upper Arlington planned to go on time.
At 5:00 A.M. George and I talked again. We still felt like a two-hour delay was appropriate.
At 5:15 A.M. Southwestern and Hilliard decided to close. Upper Arlington decided to go on a delay to clear their parking lots.
At this point George and I both felt confident that two hours was the right call, but both of us were uncomfortable that Dublin, Hilliard, Olentangy and Westerville had closed. (All those districts do have county roads on the edge of their districts that we do not have in WCS.) In addition Franklin County issued a level one snow emergency. A level one urges drivers to drive very cautiously.
Around 5:15 A.M. we decided to stick with our original assessment. Our hope was that a delay would provide our staff time to clear parking lots and sidewalks and that our buses would be able to travel on roads in daylight that are clearer and with less traffic than at morning rush.
At 7:00 A.M. I did another drive around Columbus and Worthington roads. At this point they were a little bit better but not much. We discussed whether we were still comfortable with our two-hour delay decision. Again, we were comfortable with our two-hour call.
Around 9:00 A.M. our buses began rolling to pick-up our students. Conditions had improved greatly. Some roads were still snow covered and were slow, but slipping was at a minimum
We recognize the delay was an inconvenience for families. Our hope was that today would be a productive day of learning and that by delaying school two hours the roads and sidewalks were much safer to travel than they would have been.
I understand that all of us have a different tolerance for winter weather. Reasonable people can believe we should have been closed today. Others might believe we should never do a delay or that we should have gone to school on time. I don’t have all the answers. Our goal is to continue the learning process for our students on a consistent basis when we believe it is safe to do so. That’s what we tried to do today.
-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent
P.S. As of this writing all of our schools are in session. Buses ran mostly on time. The commute to school was slippery and messy but we had no significant weather related issues. Our scheduled athletic contests, Board of Education meeting, and Curriculum meetings, will occur as scheduled this evening.