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

  • Mary

    To those of you who are apparently uneducated about the process and details involved in school closings, you might want to consider some facts.

    1. Some (many, actually) of the school buildings in our state are not able to maintain proper heating levels when the temperature drops this low and the wind is fierce. They have old heat units and very poor insulation. In order to have school, we need to ensure that our children are going to be warm enough to sit and learn for 6 or more hours.

    2. Transportation departments are having difficulty keeping the buses running. Whether it's the alternative fuel being used or the age of the equipment, the engines aren't up to working in these frigid temperatures. If engines are shutting down after ten minutes, it doesn't seem prudent to load them up with children only to find oneself stuck on the side of the road.

    3. Some students DO stand at a bus stop. Some students DO still walk to school. Many students DO ride buses for LONG periods of time. If you don't think it's cold in the back of a school bus, you haven't been on one in a while.

    4. For those who seem to think teachers get a "free ride" on snow days, you are utterly misinformed and terribly ignorant of the educator's life. First, any snow day must be made up. This means that if there isn't school on a scheduled day, then there WILL be school on a day that was previously scheduled OFF. Once the system has run out of those days, then teachers must report to school on a snow day, even when students do not. At those times, teachers are involved in training, continuing education, and also work on lesson plans, grading, etc.

    HOWEVER, if you have ever been around very many teachers, you will notice that when the school day ends, THEIR work day does NOT. They often stay much later than their "paid" hours. They usually work on the weekends (again, hours for which they are NOT PAID.) And they ALWAYS spend time in the summer working on things for the following year and making improvements to their curriculum. (AGAIN, hours for which they ARE NOT PAID.)

    Most of the people who like to COMPLAIN about teachers getting paid to do nothing are, in fact, people who ONLY work their jobs during hours for which they are paid. I haven't come across many other professions where workers work OFF the CLOCK.

  • Ed Wouldn't

    The problem I see is the standard that's been set the past several days. There's been no school for a good long while due to temps and weather and from what the forecasts tell us things aren't going to be changing anytime soon. Do we at some point say we're going to have to start having classes again despite the cold or are we prepared to have students remain home for the duration?

  • JustaFan

    Yes!

  • wvbikerguy

    It is so sad when teacher bashers speak without really knowing about what they are talking. I am one that makes the school cancellation call. I make the call thinking of the children in my county as I would my little granddaughter. Would I want her standing out in this cold or traveling on the snow covered ridges and back roads. As for the bashers teachers are receiving no more or no less than what there contract entitles them. My teachers will work their 200 day contract.

  • Todd

    The easy solution would have these days made up on Saturdays.

  • Gary in Fairmont

    During the winters of 1977 and 1978 Marion County still had six or seven high schools...now it is three and some would like to see it go to two or one. Of course, East Fairmont always did have an attendance area that went clear to the Taylor and Monongalia county lines. Kids do miss too much school. A snow day is hardly special anymore. Once you get past 18, any days off come out of your vacation balance or are unpaid. Guess I am starting to sound like an old curmudgeon, but I am almost 50, so I guess I have earned it.

    Stay safe out there!

  • PeopleAreStupid

    I was a school bus driver in a WV county from 1998 - 2002... Times have changed so much even since then.. We had "auto-chains" that were available at the flip of a switch.. If it was too bad? We put our regular chains on and pushed through, up to a certain point.
    Now? There's almost no need for chains on busses because schools called off before theyre needed.
    They definetly call off to much.. But in their defense.... Too many people in society nowdays want something for nothing and would jump at the chance to sue because of a bus accident.. Its sad, and pathetic.. But it is what it is... Tough call to make on this one..

  • Jonus Grumby

    The real crux of the problem is the June 8 mandate for the last day of school. As a result students are often times let out of school for the summer prior to the required 180 instructional days. Fix that and snow days would become irrelevant.

  • Indian Boy

    Short answer, yes. Schools close too often. Hey its Winter time - layer up

  • shepherd

    No Funny I am not a teacher, however I do have some sense and I prefer My children not be bused nor on the roads when its bad outside.

  • shepherd

    Here is an easy way to determine it...lets say you had a child that was on a school bus and the school bus was in an accident because of poor road conditions. As a parent I would be extremely upset. I know an accident can happen at anytime, but I use as much common sense and try to avoid situations that increase my or my families likelyhood of gettin hurt. Thats what the school system has to try and do every time we have bad weather. Will they get it wrong sometimes? Yes but I prefer they err on the side of caution.

  • Charleston

    Why could there not be a web-based component to the curriculum? During the days where school is cancelled at least the students could have something to work on.

  • Oak Hill resident

    http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Text_HTML/2014_SESSIONS/RS/Bills/hb4146%20intr.htm

    Check out HB 4146

  • Dont sit on your brain

    Like one of the posters stated, make zones in the counties. Not all sections of a lot of counties get much while others do. One example, is greenbrier county. Part of the county gets 3 feet and the other gets nothing.

    Years ago, there would be school during the inclement weather, and specific bus routes would be cancelled. Why not do this now? Because the teachers have to play catch up for those that missed.

    However, I do believe that the teachers should report to school on these snow days. Whether it be to work on their paperwork, or be available to take calls from concerned parents. Or even to do the teacher training that is done throughout the year (days that the kids get off midweek that are a waste).

    All other state employees have to work regardless of the weather, teachers should too.

    • stophating

      Great thought--- problem is state law dictates that if 75% of students aren't in attendance on a given day that it wasn't an instructional day, and this part of the law didn't change with the 359 changes from last year.. so be ready for many more cancellations...

    • Bert

      If teachers report on days that students do not report, then students cannot make up that day because teachers would have to be paid for an "extra" day. Next year all days will have to be made up so it will be a moot point. Another point about next year. According to the statute, 2hour delays will have to be made up. Some counties have longer days than state requires and can use excess time to cover the delays or early dismissals due to weather. This means that schools without excess minutes will probably cancel entire school days rather than call for delay because of this requirement.

  • longbeards

    Roads in WV,,,,are a major consideration in closing of schools...Unlike the northern states you folks just mentioned,,,our driving conditions are much worse due to THE MTS..Take that into consideration!!