CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Superintendent of Schools said county school superintendents have to weigh many factors before deciding whether to close schools because of weather — a process that has happened in all 55 counties every day this week.

“The first thing that’s foremost in your mind is the safety of children, particularly after you’ve had a huge snowstorm,” said state Superintendent Dr. James Phares, a former superintendent in Pocahontas, Randolph and Marion counties, on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“Everybody thinks, after they’ve plowed the main roads, that you ought to get the kids back in school.  It doesn’t happen that way.”  Many times, he said, even after the main roads are cleared of snow, the secondary roads and bus stops are not or it’s too cold to start the buses or there’s a threat of more winter weather.

All 55 county school systems in West Virginia were closed on both Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Thursday, schools in 46 counties were closed and nine were delayed.  On Friday, schools in 49 counties and six were delayed.

“Conditions are improving in parts of the state, but it’s still, this is a major question all across the state,” said Phares, who admitted it’s difficult to satisfy everyone with school day decisions based on weather.

“I will guarantee you that, in every one of these counties, each day, there were multiple calls to county offices, county transportation directors, (from) people who were even disagreeing with a delay or even when it it’s called off.”

Because of the restrictions on the current school calendar, many county school systems have no more days to use to make up snow days and so will miss the state requirement of 180 days of instruction this year.

Phares said that will change during the next school year when new school calendar provisions, which are part of the education reform law, are implemented to allow for more flexibility.  Missing the 180 day requirement will not be an option with the new law.

For now, the current law stands and there could be more snow days next week.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service were calling for several inches of snow in parts of West Virginia over the weekend.  More cold temperatures, back down below zero degrees or in the single digits, were also possible for the new school week.

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Comments

  • Jeanie Harper

    I think that you all are doing such a great job in calling school off. My husband was a teacher for many years and this was back in the 1970's thru th 1997 and we had a lot of snow days in 1978. It can not be helped when it is so bad. I had two small children during this time, I would never have sent my kids on a bus at this time. I remember being on a bus when it was so bad, when I was a child, and the bus driver would have chains on our bus, we would still slide in the ditch and we would be stalled for hours, us children scared to death, cold, and hungry, sometimes we would have to get off the bus and go to a neighbors and warm up, and children that have to walk out of a hollow to get to the bus, which still happens even if people do not think that it does, they have to walk in the sub zero weather and stand in the weather until he bus comes. I think the only problem that parents have now a days, everybody works, and they have nobody to babysit, that is why it should not be a decision at the last moment, I know that you do not know that it is going to be that bad in the morning, I say if the weather says that it is going to be really bad, then if you could call that night instead of making the decision at the last moment. Other than that I think you are doing a great job keeping the children safe. I have a son and his wife that both teach and I hate to see them and my grandchildren go an extra few days in June, but if that is he only way, then be it, but I would rather see them go longer than to have them out on the road and putting their lives in danger. Thank you so much for keeping our children and grandchildren safe. Sincerely, Jeane Harper

  • ShinnstonGuy

    The "saftey" here is the safety of the school board not to get sued. We have become a RIDICULOUS (sorry for the CAPS) society in which we blame everyone else for everything, and we take out that blame via the court system. If a superintendent doesn't call off school and then a kid gets hurt, you can bet your last dollar that kid's parent will sue. Nothing good comes out of a court case!

  • WVU

    Keeping our kids safe is definitely a priority but so is their education. If inclement weather prevents them from school, each day missed should be made up regardless. Education over vacation always!! I'm sure that going 2 or 3 weeks longer in the summer or shortening Spring Break is not going to be detrimental to anyone, but missing 3 plus weeks of instruction very well could be detrimental to a straight A student not to mention a child who struggles. They should have the same number of instructional days each & every year no matter where those days come from. P.S. I love my children & want the absolute best for them! Lets keep them safe & EDUCATED!

  • wvu123456789

    So it's about safety huh? Well, why are there high school basketball games and other events going on then? If it's too bad to risk safety to send kids to school for learning, then it should be too bad to risk traveling to playing a game or having practice, same goes for cold too. Also, you go out to the mall or WalMart or something on one of these "Snow Days" and there are a bunch of kids out and about. I agree with the one poster, either have year round school with a long winter break so these "snow" and "cold" days can be pretty much eliminated, or just have delayed openings. Has anyone ever thought of a 3 Hour Delay? When I was in school they never closed anywhere as much as they do now. Also, people should remember not everyone can just stay home. People that work at hospitals, nursing homes, Emergency Services, etc can't have snow days, they'd get fired for trying to call off because of "weather"....

    • OldSkool

      When I was in school we walked a mile to and from the bus stop hip deep in the snow. It was uphill both ways.

  • wvrefugee

    Your idiot legislators, the ones you elected, have burdened School Superintendent's with these archaic rules for having school......180 days, June 8, 43 week service personnel, etc. Quit blaming school folks when the folks in Charleston make the law!

  • JoAnn

    Year Round School! It works!

    • caller

      Not for every one. Read the information about there both pros and cons to everything!

  • WV Parent

    Why worry about the 180 days, when it is not used for instruction. Most students will tell you they do nothing of value after Westest. Some teachers even have them turn in their textbooks. I don't have a problem with them making days of at the end of the year, but if the days are wasted with whole day recesses, watching movies, and other non-educational things why bother sending them to school.

    • Jonus Grumby

      Why worry about the 180 days? Just a guess, but perhaps because it's the law? Maybe the tests should be given closer to the last days of school so the students are receiving instruction later than they are now so as to avoid having them sit around for the last 2 weeks of the year. Of course, the teachers' unions would have a kitten over that idea. It's more about that magic day-June 8th, than the students.

      • Leo

        Mr Grumpy, you should get your facts straight before you speak. We have begged them for years to move testing to the end of the year so we have time to get all of our required instruction in. Once the tests are over, the kids are done, not the teachers. Start putting blame where it belongs. On that note, we need to start making these tests count towards moving on to the next grade. If you don't meet mastery, you don't pass.

        • Wow2

          I think they should give the test at the beginning of the next year for the year before. For instance, new fourth graders should take the third grade test, new fifth grade should take the fourth grade test and so fourth. Yes that leaves out the Seniors, but hey most of them are taking the ACT or SAT anyway.

  • Jonus Grumby

    Knock down the June 8th barrier & we wouldn't be having this discussion.

  • ThatGuyOverThere

    180 days means nothing if the material that is being presented to the students is of little to no context. Critical thinking skills and math skills need to be first and formost in school...I wish they would have made us take a progressivelly harder math class every single 9 weeks/semeister from day one....Having studied at WVU with many foregin kids, I was years and years behind their math learning curve.

  • chasmo

    do away with the " spring break " . start school earlier in august . stop with the " 2 hr " teachers meetings in the mornings , having students come 2 hr later ..numerous numerous ways to MAKE the 180 days !

    • I say

      Unfortunately, spring break is now a sacred cow. They took it away several years ago and the teachers went ballistic. It will never be used to make up school days.

      Got to put the teachers first, ya know. Their breaks and vacation are MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than educating our students.

  • Just Asking

    I have a granddaughter in school in North Carolina. Their code states that the school calendar must have a minimum of 185 days or 1,025 hours of instruction covering at least nine calendar months. Why not do something like that in WV?

  • Matt

    This is another reason WV needs to get with the times and offer online school like PA does

  • I say

    Funny how kids years ago always made it to school in similar weather. Kids seem to get along just fine in the far northern states.

    As far as someone commenting on any ice, there was just as much ice at 8:00 as there was at 10:00. And as far as the temperature goes, it rose a whopping 2 degrees in those 2 hours.

    So, what was the purpose of the delay in Kanawha County? Wouldn't have anything to do giving the teachers a shorter day since they lost their 2 hour early outs, would it?

    Nah, of course not.

  • nice to know

    Parents don't want kids at home....shame. they want state to babysit and feed them.

  • WVWorker

    It would be best to start school the first of March and go through the end of November. That way it would be safer busing the children and they could save on heating expenses.