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Why Are Royal Oak Public Schools Open Today?

You ask, Patch answers!

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. 

Patrice Walsh February 27, 2013 at 06:30 PM
As much as I LOVE snow days as a parent (really--I do!), I agree that today didn't warrant one. The roads were messy and extra care was needed, but they weren't really beyond a normal Michigan morning. So as sad as it was to NOT have a snow day like the majority of schools near us, I commend Superintendent Lewis-Lakin for making a balanced decision.
Zach Johnson February 27, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Mr. Lewis-Lakin should be applauded for keeping school in session today. There was absolutely no reason,whatsoever, to cancel school today. A few inches of slush does not qualify as a cataclysmic event worthy of keeping kids home, away from their school work, while parents scramble to make arrangements.Too often districts play follow the leader when it comes to their decision making and today shows that Mr. Lewis-Lakin is not part of train of thought.
lisa February 27, 2013 at 07:30 PM
What about all the kids who walked to school because they do not offer transportation. Ughhh
Bob February 27, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Really??? Cue the crying baby.
Bob February 27, 2013 at 07:35 PM
A measly two inches of snow and this is a question?
Tim February 27, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Good call by the Superintendent.
Carmella February 27, 2013 at 09:40 PM
I drove my children in this mess, plus the fog it was really bad . Body it was more than two inches and really messy. I would like to see you walk in it with a 40 lb backpack
Carmella February 27, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Why did Royal Oak call a snow emergency?
Carmella February 27, 2013 at 09:44 PM
I notice the same group of people love to kiss up to superintendent, ex principal
Tim February 27, 2013 at 09:52 PM
A 40 lb backpack, really? Unless your child is going to a professional bowlers school, and carrying two bowling balls, what could your child possibly need to tote back and forth to school on a daily basis? A text book weighs 2 or three pounds. Please enlighten us as to what they are carrying back and forth that weighs that much. Embellish much?
Tim February 27, 2013 at 09:54 PM
I apologize in advance if Junior is attending masonary school and carries bricks back and forth to school.
Zach Johnson February 27, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Seal up the mountain, flush the subs & bombers, we're at WhineCon 1. 40 pound backpack? Possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. What about the kids who walked to school? They have these things called boots, coats, hats and gloves for use during these occasions. 4 out of 5 Doctors agree that these items, when worn correctly, will keep your child warm. I'm also sorry that in the middle of a Michigan Winter, you were required to drive in a couple inches of slush on the side roads. The main roads were all clear. Barely a touch of slush on them. I know...I drove my kids to school in this "Terrible fog" and "couple inches of slush".
Bob February 27, 2013 at 11:57 PM
Yes, Tim, a 40 lb backpack. LOL. Carmella, tell your children to suck it up. Stop coddling them.
Bob February 27, 2013 at 11:58 PM
You people are hilarious. I'm in stitches.
Tim February 28, 2013 at 12:51 AM
•The proper maximum weight for loaded backpacks should not exceed 15 percent of the child’s body weight. For example, an 80-pound child should not carry more than 12 pounds in a pack. If the pack forces the carrier to bend forward, it is overloaded. Child's Body Weight Max. Backpack Weight 40 lbs. 6 lbs. 50 lbs. 7.5 lbs. 60 lbs. 9 lbs. 70 lbs. 10.5 lbs. 80 lbs. 12 lbs. 90 lbs. 13.5 lbs. 100 lbs. 15 lbs. 120 lbs. 18 lbs. 140 lbs. 21 lbs. 160 lbs. 24 lbs. Chart taken from “The Backpack Attack” produced by the Physical Therapy department, Randolph, AFB.
Carmella February 28, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Well I guess you never had a text book, they are heavy. Did you weigh them? We did. Not everyone lives close to the school. It's easy to tell others what do do when it's not you walking in the snow with a back pack.
Chris Pariseau February 28, 2013 at 03:00 AM
My daughter's backpack is way heavier than it should be. She also carries and instrument. However, that does not exempt her from doing whatever she needs to do. Yes..it was a pain if you had to walk or drive this morning. But it wasn't impossible. As a society, our ideas of needs vs wants are skewed. A little adversity is not a bad thing. It is ok to struggle sometimes. Now that my children are older, I think I did them a disservice by being too available.

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