Will school be canceled Monday?

Cary Ashby • Jan 5, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Will school be canceled or even delayed because of the dire weather forecast for Monday and Tuesday?

Some superintendents were taking the wait-and-see approach today.

At 7:07 p.m., Norwalk issued a One Call announcing that school was canceled for Monday. That means Norwalk students will get at least one more day of winter break.

(NOTE: After this story was posted, a number of other school districts also announced they will be closed Monday. Here's a LINK to the list of closings.)

In Norwalk, the National Weather Service forecast is calling for "widespread blowing snow" and a 30-percent chance of snow showers. With a southwest wind of 23 mph, forecasters predicted a low of about minus 15 and wind chill values as low as 40 below zero.

Norwalk City Schools Superintendent Dennis Doughty was taking a wait-and-see approach when interviewed by the Reflector on Sunday. However, he said he would keep an eye on the weather forecast.

Monroeville Local Schools Superintendent Gregg Elchert also was waiting before making a decision.

"It sure doesn't look good in terms of what they're calling for," he said from Fremont, where he said "it just started snowing" early Sunday afternoon. "Certainly we have to wait and see if we get what's predicted."

If the area gets the weather that's being forecast, Elchert said there was a "good possibility" he would cancel school.

"It depends on how fast it comes," he said. "Some superintendents don't like to make the decision the night before."

By about 4:30 a.m. Monday, Elchert planned to check the roads in the Monroeville district with the transportation director, Don Beck.

Western Reserve Local Schools Superintendent Rodge Wilson monitored the wind chill chart through NOAA, the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, for three days.

"First of all, the forecast is ever changing," he said.

When the forecast called for 4 to 8 inches of snow today, Wilson said he considered that "manageable."

"It's the wind chill I'm worried about," he said, referring to not wanting students to get frost bite while waiting for buses.

"My guideline (for canceling school) is 19 below," Wilson said about wind chill values. "That is a no-brainer; you cancel school."

Also, the Western superintendent said when frost bite is a real possibility, he doesn't want students waiting outside in those conditions.

"That's a clear decision when you have to cancel school," he added.

When the NOAA forecast upgraded the snow amount to 6 to 10 inches about 10:05 a.m. Sunday, Wilson said snow fall became "a primary concern."

But as with the other superintendents, Wilson was waiting to see what Mother Nature would actually bring to the area today.

Like Doughty and Wilson, Edison Local Schools Superintendent Tom Roth was monitoring the forecast Sunday.

"We want to make sure if the storm is going to materialize like it's supposed to," said Roth, who expected to be up at 3:30 a.m. driving on the district roads.

Roth's biggest concern is teenage drivers being on the road in the snow. He also said frigid temperatures would be a factor in deciding to delay or cancel school.

"Cold is just going to be a whole different ball game," he said.

Sharon Mastroianni, EHOVE Career Center superintendent, also waited to see what would happen with the forecasted storm.

"I get my cues from what the other districts do," she said.

EHOVE has students from Erie, Huron and Ottawa counties.

"I am connected to all their OneCalls. So when they make their OneCalls (about cancellations or delays), I get all that information," said Mastroianni, who used to have superintendents call her before the OneCall technology.

While Mastroianni doesn't make decisions about cancellations or delays based on a percentage, she said she does keep track if one district with a large percentage of EHOVE students or a cluster of schools cancel.

"So it's not a perfect science," she added with a laugh.

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