School districts weigh decision to cancel classes on account of snow

CARROLL TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. --The winter weather had many school administrators telling students to take the day off Thursday, while several other central Pennsylvania districts got off to a late start.

Parents in some areas may have wondered why their kids' school canceled classes Thursday, with very little snow on the ground.

One school superintendent shared his thoughts on why times have changed.

There are a few things school administrators consider besides snow when calling a snow day for students.

Northern York County School District superintendent Dr. Eric Eshbach said "a bus starting, children waiting at a bus stop, and also take into consideration that we have a lot of teenage drivers who may be driving for the first time in the snow."

Student drivers aren't the only ones who might be out driving on potentially dangerous, icy roads.

"I actually go out and take a drive around the district to see what things look like. I'm able to get into three of our municipalities. My director of buildings and grounds comes a different route, and is able to check some things out," Eshbach said.

Thursday, the Northern York County School District superintendent called for a two-hour delayed opening for schools, but there are times that might be better to just take the whole day off.

"I have the utmost faith in my bus drivers, but we're asking them to transport students in some really difficult situations. I can always make school up in June, and it never snows in June, knock on wood," Eshbach said.

"When it's possible, we need to get them to school, and they need to stay into their routine. When it gets to a point where safety and security dictates that's not going to be in the best interest of the students, then we close school," Eshbach added.

Times may have changed for those who rarely had a snow day while growing up, or whose parents bragged about walking a mile to school in the snow.

"Times have changed with everything, we live in a litigious society," Eshbach said.

The weather conditions outside aren't the only concern for student safety when temperatures drop.

"You'll see some people that may need to delay or may even need to close, because they're having trouble with furnaces. Just like at home, we have trouble in the cold weather with our furnaces. Imagine when you have hundreds of thousands of square feet worth of a building that you have to heat," Eshbach said.

As one of the few York County school districts open on this particular snow day, there may be one thing that sets the Northern York County District apart from others.

"Polar bears are in session today because the polar bears love snow, we are the polar bears," Eshbach said.

Pennsylvania requires school districts to have 180 days in session, and many districts like Northern York, build extra days into the calendar so that kids aren't sitting in class until the end of June on account of snow.