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Ask the Super: Lewis-Lakin Answers Snow Day, School Calendar Questions

Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin describes the process for canceling school.

The following information was provided by Royal Oak schools chief Shawn Lewis-Lakin.


Why did our school calendar call for school to be in session on Jan. 2 and Jan. 3?

Per State Law, the Royal Oak Schools calendar is consistent with the common calendar for schools in Oakland County. This common calendar has the holiday break ending and classes resuming on Jan. 2, 2014.  Information regarding the common calendar for schools in Oakland County is available at: http://www.oakland.k12.mi.us/CommonCalendar/tabid/1754/Default.aspx

What process is used in determining when school may be cancelled?

Because of the importance every day of student instruction has for children, the decision to cancel a day of school is made very deliberately and carefully.  The decision to cancel school is based on one factor: student safety.  

The process for making a weather related school cancellation decision begins as soon as one of the many weather forecasts we monitor indicates that hazardous conditions might develop.   As a parent and as one who has not always worked in schools, I know how disruptive a school cancellation can be to family routines.  I try to balance making a decision based on actual conditions versus predicted or forecast conditions with the desire to provide families with as much notice as possible regarding a school cancellation.  I would rather err on waiting until the morning to decide than to cancel school unnecessarily.

Our Operations Department works overnight on snow removal.   When the actual conditions suggest that canceling school should be considered, I will confer with staff members at 5:00 a.m. As a Royal Oak resident, I will personally assess area weather and road conditions. In addition, I will check various weather forecasts and consult with other area superintendents.  My goal is to make a decision – school or no school – by 5:30 a.m.  Student safety is the criteria for making the decision.  With reasonable care, will families be safe driving. and will children who walk to school be able to do so safely?  

Snow, ice, wind, and temperature are all variables that are a part of the decision making process.  The amount of snow matters, but wind speed and temperature (e.g. when temperatures impact the effectiveness of salt to melt snow) also play into the decision.   As a general rule, school closings are considered when temperatures are -20 to -25 degrees Fahrenheit (as actual air temperatures, wind-chill or “real feel” temperatures), but this decision can be impacted by when such lows are anticipated and for how long they are expected to last.

Once a decision to cancel school is made, we use the contact information for families from the MI-STAR system to send out notices.   We also post the information on the district website and notify the media.    

The forecast for early next week is for subzero temperatures and heavy snow. Will school be cancelled?

At this time, I do not know, but you have my promise that I will use the best information I have to make the best decision I can. 

What about swimming lessons scheduled to begin Saturday, Jan. 4?  Will they still occur? 

Yes!  If you are registered for winter swimming lessons at Royal Oak High School beginning on Saturday, Jan. 4, lessons will begin tomorrow as scheduled.  


al carter January 03, 2014 at 11:18 PM
Thank you Shawn Lewis-Lakin for doing a good job! We appreciate your hard work and dedication to Royal Oak!

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