MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Students in 46 West Virginia counties were home from school again on Thursday as cold temperatures held fast in the Mountain State.

Parts of 50 counties were under a Wind Chill Advisory from the National Weather Service with temperatures parked in the single digits and teens and wind chills fell to below zero.

The school closures, because of the cold and snow, prompted a debate on MetroNews “Talkline” about whether schools are closed too often for weather.

“I graduated in 1976, so when I was in high school, when it snowed, every morning you could hear this audible concert of snow chains on the school buses,” said one caller.  “Especially when it’s this cold, don’t endanger your children’s health,” said another, while a third caller weighed in, “Whether they call it off too much, I think they probably do.”

Dale Lee, West Virginia Education Association president, said a lot of factors are considered before decisions about school closures are made.  “It’s probably the most difficult call that a superintendent has to make,” said Lee.  “But, how do you have kids stand out as cold as it is?”

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said, after a brief period with temperatures above freezing this weekend, the extreme cold will return next week.

County schools systems were shut down in all 55 West Virginia counties on both Tuesday and Wednesday and many of the schools that did open Thursday were operating on delayed schedules.

Students in the counties affected by the Jan. 9 chemical leak on the Elk River that contaminated the water supply have missed nearly two weeks of school because of a combination of water problems, winter weather and the previously scheduled Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one having to make that decision on the calls,” said Lee.  “You have to look at what’s best for the safety of the kids.”

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Comments

  • The bookman

    It's a matter of comfort level, not safety. Kids in the upper Midwest are not biologically able to handle cold weather by some special genetic advantage. Transportation is not dramatically better suited to handle the snow and ice in Erie than in Elkins. Yet school cancellation is handled differently in both of those locations than here in WV.

    This too shall pass, however! With next year's calendar mandates, pressure from parents and teachers will switch from "These roads are too bad" or "It's way too cold", to "I don't want to have to make up those days so bundle up, and let's go to school." School systems are public opinion driven, and public opinion has given us this current policy in practice. Public opinion will change when every hour of every day is accounted for, and policy will change as well.

  • Woodchuck

    Travel time is a big issue. Did anyone ride a bus for an hour before 1980 something?

    There is such a waste of money when the cost is the same with no benefit. Meaning... We are paying everyone, but the students are not getting the education. Do the teachers not get paid? Forget about that. Do any of us real world workers get paid for days not worked? I don't.

    There a lot of days that school could go on, it is just easier for the school district admin to cancel so they don't get the angry calls from parents! Grow some backbone and get the kids in school.

    • Tom

      Easy statement for you to make since you are not the one making the decision nor suffering the consequences thereof. I believe the poker term for that is "playing with someone else's money".

    • Mac

      For those of you who are worried about your tax money, these snow days will be made up towards the end of the year. At least that's what will happen in Marion County. So, even though staff members get paid during the snow days, the extra days at the end of school make up for the discrepancy. I would also like to add that some 30-40 years ago, counties decided to take away the community schools (in which students could walk both to and from) and consolidate them into one larger school. They were built outside of the community to allow for future expansion and adequate parking. Few if any students were able to walk to the new facilities, thus creating a busing situation for more than 90% of the students. So when someone says: "I used to walk to school everyday rain, snow, or 'shine," they attended a local, community school within reach of a walking student population. It wasn't until their high school years that outlying community students would begin their daily bus trips to finish their education. Thus without major transportation worries in icy weather, the schools were normally in session. But occasionally, when snow depths hit 5" to 6", there would be that rare morning when the local radio station would announce..."No School in ______ County."

    • Mburgfan

      Woodchuck - based on your comment I can tell that you have never held a decent job in your life. Why try to drag the rest of us down to your level - you should have stayed in school. Go get a real job. Furthermore, it appears that you have never had the responsibility of making decisions that affect the lives of others? Otherwise, you would not be so careless with your comments.

  • susanf1218

    "Back in my day we walked to school in snow that was over our heads - uphill BOTH ways; with no boots" - said those who think that school is cancelled too much.

  • Jeff

    Let a child of one of the no-closure commenters get hurt in an accident and watch how fast they get to a lawyer. The school systems must protect themselves from liability as well as insure the safety of the children. I fully support the county school superintendents' and their decisions regarding school delays and cancellations.

    • WVWorker

      What happens if they are in an accident when the weather is warm and the roads are bare? How are you going to prevent that from happening? The only thing to do is home school your kids.

      • stophating

        On clear roads, there is no "culpable liability" (I believe that is the correct legal term)-- no, you should have known the roads were dangerous.

        Someone with a legal background can please correct, and or clarify my terminology.

        • WVWorker

          You must be a school teacher who gets these days off.

      • Mburgfan

        WVWorker - instead of worrying about school closings why don't you and your colleagues do a better job with the roads. The primary reasons why the schools remain closed is the state of the roads. I live in a region where one is able to compare the condition of the roads in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. What we get in West Virginia, and I am not really complaining because I have accepted the mindset of some people here in our state, is "we will do 81 and 9 the rest is up to the individual citizen." This might be difficult to understand so let me explain. It does not matter how good 81, 9, 340 or any of the other main road looks if citizens are not able to get from there housing developments to these main road in a safe way. Schools in most of the states mentioned above hase resumed classes because theri students have good, clean, safe roads to travel on - with sidewalks. Our kids stand in the road on a good day and when there is snow of the road God help them. It is easy to attack the schools and they have been easy targets for some over the years. However, its time to engage in some serious critical thinking and put the blame where it is. To compare west virginia with Alsaka and some of the other states mentioned in previous posts is comparing apples with oranges but Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia are our neighbours and when they are able to clear their roads and get their children back to school - shame on the government and the state workers who should do a better job clearing the roads.

        • WVWorker

          When the weather is near or below zero PA, MD, and VA can't clear their roads any better than WV. If you live in a housing development it is probably the homeowner associations responsibility to get the roads cleared. I would like to see you try it for about a week without the Department of Highways. You live in a part of the state that dosen't have severe weather like other parts of the state so until you have spent a 12 hour shift operating a snow plow truck in whiteout conditions quit complaining.

          • Mburgfan

            I can respect that... I also am hoping that you get off the teachers since you have no way of knowing what they are dealing with either. All of us have our specialties and, as you rightly pointed out, I have never been in a truck plowing during white out conditions. In a similar manner, I have never been a school teacher. I support you as a state working and the limitations you have getting your job done to my liking as a citizen and do the same for the teachers. As a fellow government employee you should be more supportive of teachers you are in the same boat.

  • Mburgfan

    I believe the question is midguided. The primary issues are about the condition of the roads and safety. In many other states people are able to resume their daily lives and travel the roads knowing that actions were taken to keep them safe. In West Virginia the government seems to leave thing to nature (God) - just look at the oil spill incident - let it wash down stream and resume drinking at your own risk. Too many people are quick to attack the school and the overworked under paid professional who run them (before you attack - I do not work fo rthe school system and is actually employed in a different state). Get off the schools and get on the politicians and others who refuses to provide good services to the citizens of West Virginia by cleaning the roads. The main roads to and from my development are still covered with ICE are two days - this is what the students and teachers must deal with to get to their destinations and someone have the nurve to blame the people who are trying to protect our children - shame on you. Call you politician and tell them to get the roads cleaned.

    • WVWorker

      How do you propose that they get the ice off the roads. They plow the snow off and put down abrasives. These kids sure find a way to get to the Mall or Walmart on the days when the roads are unsafe to travel.

      • stophating

        Darn---that needs to stop--why are counties transporting students to malls and Walmart? Wait, they aren't--no liability for the county when someone else takes minors to the mall or Walmart.

        • WVWorker

          Why are you so worried about liability. We pay insurance companies hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to cover the liability.

  • Terry

    My wife just returned from visiting family in Wisconsin. While she was there the low temps got down to zero or below every night. One morning her and her grandmother were out she seen a lot of children out walking. Being from West Virginia,where school is cancelled at the drop of a hat, she was surprised to see children out. She asked her grandmother why they were out in the cold and snow. Her grandmother looked at her funny and said," uhh, going to school". LOL, yes we cancel school WAY TO MUCH!

    • Tom

      Good point. I have a daughter in Northern PA teaching and have only called off one day. Yet I have a niece who teaches in North Carolina and they call off if an inch of snow comes down. You cannot compare different areas. It is whatever the public sector of that particular area expects and accepts as normal. You all want local control then complain when it does not go your way. Wake up!!!

  • Woodchuck

    I think there will accidents on good weather days.

  • ethan

    start sending the kids to school in the summer months with a shorter summer break and give them a longer winter break. Easy fix

    • susanf1218

      That is the worst idea EVER! Not an "easy" fix! Would YOU like to take your vacation in the winter in these conditions?? If you couldn't go away somewhere warm? Didn't think so.

      • quick vic

        In other words, susanf1218, vacations take priority over a students education. Sounds like a typical educationalists comment.To Hell with education, my kids have to go to Myrtle Beach!!!

        • susanf1218

          Well, I'm not a "typical educationalist", whatever the hell that means. Not even sure that educationalist is a real word. What I am is someone who realizes that the number of days of school is less important than the quality of the education they receive when they are in the classroom. Whether it is 180 days or 200 days matters less than what is being taught when they are in school.

        • susanf1218

          And, vic - you missed my point completely. I am saying that having vacation in the middle of winter with below-freezing temperatures and snow isn't something that would appeal to most people, UNLESS you could afford to go somewhere warm to escape these weather conditions. Not practical for most people b/c you can't just leave your homes and then have to worry about pipes freezing or leaving the thermostat set to keep an empty house warm while you are away which would be a waste of money. Most people would prefer to take their vacations in the summer months.

  • WVWorker

    It's not like they are walking to school. In my county they bus everyone to school and the busses run on a pretty tight schedule so the cold weather shouldn't even be a factor. They also have tire chains if the snow gets too deep. I believe they close the schools for the teachers benefit more than any other reason.

    • stophating

      you suffer from a computer error I refer to as the "10 I 0 T"

      Not sure where you live, but I live in one of the poorer counties in the state--many people sell their foodstamp cards to get money for drugs, alcohol, tobacco-- I've personally given many students coats, jackets, or sweatshirts to stay warm-- drive through my county on just a normal winter morning and you would agree with me.

      • WVWorker

        Oh please, stop making up this kind of BS. Keeping the children out of school isn't going to help them. They need an education to get out of poverty not days off to sit around doing drugs.

    • Leo

      Right, teachers get together, decide they need another day off and call the superintendent and demand they cancel school! What planet did you come from?

  • Funny

    Question:

    What do students in North Dakoata, Maine, Alaska, Montana, etc., do in winter?

    They go to school!!!

    • Mburgfan

      Funny - that is comparing apples with oranges. More reasonable comparisons would be Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia etc. For example, drilling for oil/gas in Texas is very different from doing the same in West Virginia - not sure if you will be able to understand the comparison and contrast; however, comparing West Virginia and Alaska in terms of how they manage snow or how students continue to attend school in times of snow is a reach? I wonder how much resources (money, manpower, etc) is designated to manager snow in the Winter months by the politicians in West Virginia?

  • Dale

    The root of the problem is consoludation. Kids travel too far/long to get to school.

  • Jim

    Way too much.

  • shepherd

    The 1st time they dont call off school and there is an accident then people will be complaining that they should have called school off. Why is this even a question? The superitendents have guidelines they follow and hopefully some common sense, I agree kids need to be in school but we cant put them in harms way to get them there. Just my thought....

    • Funny

      Then school should be closed when it rains. Accidents happen when it rains.

      You are obviously a teacher just wanting another day off.

      • Mburgfan

        Funny - To quote Mr. Reagan "there you go again" comparing apples with oranges. Can you really compare rain with snow? Should there be any concern for the safety of children and adults when it snows?

      • Leo

        And you are obviously a parent who is missing your free babysitting service

    • Mac

      Bad roads is one thing. Lately if the temp is below 10 degrees (That's +10) then school is cancelled. INSANE! My kids have had 4 days in school this year and it's almost February...

      Without a doubt school is cancelled too often.

    • Jeff

      +1

    • Bill Hill

      Common sense and county school superintendents, words that can't be used together. If what I see coming out of the school system where I live is any indication, I fail to understand why all the concern. The only difference is kids aren't being taught anything at home instead of not be taught anything at the expense of the taxpayer.

  • Charleston

    YES!!!

  • 2XLPatriot

    Way too much!