In the past few years I have come to detest the term “wintry mix.” It seems to have become a catch-all, “hedge-your-bet” easy way for weather forecasters to improve their accuracy in the face of an uncertain outcome. Unfortunately, whenever it is used we are subsequently relegated to trying to determine the exact nature of the precipitation (snow, sleet, ice, rain), and discern its impact on road conditions. Personally, I would prefer all snow to this mixture. Furthermore, it is best when the prediction is for six inches or more!
Now that the calendar has changed to January, I expect that the weather will become much more of an issue and a source of disruption to classes. While the occasional snow day can be a welcome event for our school community, too many of them have an adverse impact on the quality of the academic experience for our students. Yet it is mostly the in-between weather events that cause the greatest trouble especially when they start around 5 or 6 AM.
The decision about whether or not to open or close the school involves many factors beyond the overall forecast. They include road conditions, the timing of the storm, the status of our busses (we have 12 that transport almost 1/3 of our students) and our ability to get the campus cleaned up.
The possible options are a delayed opening, early dismissal, or cancellation of school. We try to make the decision as soon as we know all of the information and the course of action is clear. Please keep in mind that our faculty and students come from many towns outside of Gladstone and the weather can vary greatly. What may be a light drizzle in Bridgewater can be a white-out in Chester. Because of the number of students who ride a bus, in the event that our area superintendents decide to cancel, we are often forced to follow suit. Another consideration is those students in the Upper School who drive and the many families who travel more than 30 minutes to get to the campus.
Above all, we want to keep our students safe and fully recognize that parents have the final say. Please keep all these things in mind the next time snow, or worse – wintry mix – is in the forecast.
Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a vigorous, meaningful and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.