Last winter may have been an anomaly, and even unprecedented, with its day after day of frigid cold or heavy snow — or, on more than a few days, frigid cold and heavy snow.
School in Duluth had to be called off an unbelievable eight times, the most cancellations in one year since the 1970s. Two additional days had to be added to the end of the school year, eating into summer vacations, and 12 minutes had to be tacked onto each school day at the end of the year to make up for time lost.
So school district officials this summer did what many of us may have hoped they’d do. They surveyed and talked to parents, teachers and others and brainstormed to see if something other than canceling all classes could be considered on dangerously wintry days.
The answer is yes. On Wednesday, the district emailed parents and others to let them know that this year, for the first time, the district will employ the option of delaying school for two hours to allow time for weather to improve. At least two canceled days last year would have been avoided had the district had the option then, Superintendent Bill Gronseth told News Tribune reporter John Lundy in an interview yesterday.
“It gives us another tool in our toolbox,” Gronseth said. Middle-school and high-school students missing their first two periods on a snowy or frigid, but improving, morning is “less disruptive than (all students) missing a whole day.”
Most of us love the occasional snow day (or cold day): the unexpected day off, the camaraderie of cleaning up with neighbors; it can be like a gift. But eight of them in one year? That’s a gift to return. So the more makes-sense options available to school officials the better in the ongoing quest to make sure students are both safe and don’t have to miss any more school than is absolutely necessary.