After several snow days in a short period of time, many people are curious about how the district makes the decision to close schools. So here goes.
It starts with the same first step as everyone else: looking at the forecast. MNPS officials closely examine what is expected and work with local meteorologists to get a frank and honest assessment of the chances for significant precipitation.
Once the snow or ice has fallen, a group of dedicated employees within the Transportation Department fan out across the city to examine the road conditions. They drive on snow and ice covered roads, looking at potential trouble spots, which include difficult hills, winding back roads, heavily shaded areas and every other factor that could affect bus and car travel on the way to or from school. It is important to note that this group examines the city's roads as a whole. The decision is not based on a single street or a single neighborhood, but rather the 500+ square miles that constitute Davidson County.
Members of this "snow patrol" then meet to discuss their assessments. In some cases they take photographs of what they found in the areas that they examined. You can see this morning's photos by clicking on the picture at the bottom of this story. The team may repeat this process 2-3 times per day, to see if road conditions have improved or worsened as the day goes on.
Once all reports have been made, all areas of town have been accounted for and all voices have been heard, the decision is made. As soon as that happens, the Communications Department makes a district-wide callout, alerts the media, and posts the information online. We know our families have decisions to make regarding childcare, work and other arrangements, so there is no delay or dawdling in between making the decision and announcing it.
We hope that this gives you a better understanding of just how much goes into making the decision to close schools. Losing an instructional day is not something to be taken lightly. If students and teachers are able to get to school safely, we want them there. But safety has always and will always come first. We appreciate the patience that everyone shows in waiting for a decision to be made, and thank you for supporting Metro Schools!
Click here for photos taken by the "snow patrol" on Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Click here for photos taken by the "snow patrol" on Thursday, January 20, 2011
Click here for photos taken on Thursday, January 13, 2011.
Click here for photos taken on Wednesday, January 12, 2011.
Click here for photos taken on the morning of January 11, 2011.