Explainer: What goes into the decision to call a 2-hour delay or flexible instruction day?

Channel 11 is finding out exactly what goes into the decision to call a two-hour delay or flexible instruction day.

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“It is an up and down, not a precise process or science,” Beaver Area Superintendent Dr. Mark Holtzman said.

While no district is the same, a lot of the same thoughts go into the process.

“Like tomorrow with the wind chill it’s going to be below zero and that’s when you start to have concerns for your walkers, bus riders those kinds of things. Then making sure the transportation companies can prep their staff and be ready for their buses to go in the morning,” Holtzman said.

It also doesn’t come without help and extra eyes in the neighborhoods from the school facility crews.

“They go out in the morning, they drive the roads, it could be the worst conditions and the roads are cleared or it could not so bad but the roads are a mess. It really depends on the shape of the roads,” said Dr. Daniel Castagna who’s the Woodland Hills Superintendent.

Add in buses that may not start and the driver shortage so call-offs stack up, and decisions can get difficult.

“Because we bus 6000 kids a day at Woodland Hills we deal with three different bus companies and sometimes they call me and say hey the buses can’t start that’s more negative 15 negative 20,” Castagna said.

Most districts can’t send kids home in the middle of the day so when making these calls, they have to look at the entire day’s forecast.

“Sometimes young children can’t get into their homes if parents aren’t there to pick them up from the bus stops so we try to hold off as much as we can to get through the entire day if we can,” Holtzman said.

But safety isn’t just weather and roads, safety for some students comes from the ability to get their meals at school. While districts try to plan in advance to send extra food home with students who qualify for free meals when it comes to winter weather they can’t always be ahead of the game.

“For unexpected days you just can’t. That’s why we try to avoid them as much as possible and only use them in emergency circumstances that is because of those kids on the free lunch programs,” Castagna said.

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