Patch reader Sara wrote: "There's a snow emergency in the city, the streets not plowed, so why are schools still open?"
To answer Sara's question, Patch talked to Royal Oak Supt. Shawn Lewis-Lakin. Of the districts that touch Royal Oak, only Berkley, Clawson and Lamphere are open. Southfield, Birmingham, Ferndale, Troy, Madison and Hazel Park districts are all closed today. So we asked:
What criteria does the district use when trying to determine whether or not to call a snow day?
Lewis-Lakin: A variety of factors are evaluated in the process of determining when conditions warrant closing school.
First and foremost are weather and road conditions: With appropriate care, will students and staff be able to get to school safely?
In assessing these conditions, I talk to district staff members who are on the roads and I also check the roads myself. As a Royal Oak resident, I personally check conditions here in Royal Oak. Typically, when the weather is questionable I begin this process at about 4:00 a.m.
As a part of the process, I consult with other area superintendents. However, each district is unique. Weather patterns have different impacts in various parts of the metropolitan area. Districts with rural roads often experience very different conditions than a district like Royal Oak. Also, some districts have a high percentage of school of choice students for whom difficult travel days present different challenges.
Today was a day when conditions in our part of Oakland County were more similar to those in Macomb County, where just about all of the schools are open. While I talk with other superintendents and look at what other districts decide, my job is to make the best possible decision for Royal Oak.
I am responsible for making a district decision for Royal Oak regarding whether conditions warrant closing our schools. However, we respect that parents always have the right and responsibility for determining whether their children can safely travel to school.