By Shannon Barkey
It’s safe to say that most people in Stoughton High School would favor a day at home relaxing rather than sitting in a classroom all day. But what most people do not know is that it is quite a process to cancel school.
Dr. Rizzi, the superintendent of our school system, is an expert on the process of deciding snow days. When asked about the criteria for a school cancellation, it all came down to one thing: safety. If buses, cars, and people cannot get to school 100% safely- it is necessary to cancel the day and make it up later in the year.
Rizzi explained that there is a large amount of pressure on her, since she has to make the executive decision at the end of the day. “I can never satisfy everyone,” she said as she explains the massive amount of calls and e-mails she receives when she is forced to make a decision based on the weather. “I would rather be cautious, and avoid a dangerous situation.”
When Rizzi hears about the possibility of inclement weather, she immediately starts the process of deciding the seriousness. She checks a total of seven, yes SEVEN, weather reports from all around to see the overlap and see how confident the meteorologists are. Then, she consults the head of facilities at the school to make sure that everything is ready to make people’s trek to and from school safe. She must also consider the commute her staff must make to get to school, since some people live pretty far away.
This year we have had three snow days so far. As most of us know, if we go over five days, there has to be adjustments made in order to make up for lost days. Rizzi clarified on this subject when she said that we actually have one more day than that, since we can go until the end of June, but no further.
If it is necessary to cancel school that many times, which hopefully will not be the case, sacrifices must be made. The rumor of cancelling the entirety of April vacation is actually a myth- we would only have to come in for as many days as we have to make up (thank goodness!). The other options are to hold a regular school day on one of our Monday holidays, Good Friday, or a Saturday. This decision would be made by the school council. “But really, who would want to come in on one of those days? No one,” commented Rizzi.
Due to all of the buzz in the news about “virtual” school days, it was necessary to ask Rizzi if she sees iPads and lecture videos in our future. “Possibly- but we haven’t even considered it yet,” she said. The decision for something that would change the entire basis of a “snow day” would have to be made by the state- and they would have to create an entire infrastructure behind it. “Although, we are looking into having one-to-one devices for students within the next two years,” said Rizzi.
Mrs. Ingrao, a history teacher at Stoughton High School, was asked her opinion of the virtual snow days. “I think it would take away from the job of a teacher,” Ingrao said.
This idea of using technology and giving students independence on their daily lesson is quite scary for some school teachers. When asked if she believes students are really concerned about safety or a day off, Rizzi commented, “A day off- who wouldn’t?” But the factors must all be considered, and cancelling school for mild weather is not in anyone’s best interest.
There are many factors that Dr. Rizzi must look over carefully. We take advantage of the fact that there is the option to cancel school even though it is for our own safety. Many people don’t realize how much work and consideration goes into school cancellations. Hopefully this week’s early spring snow storm will not tack on more trouble.