How Lynden handles decisions when the snow comes

How Lynden handles decisions when the snow comes
Posted on 12/14/2016
The forecast Sunday evening, Dec. 11, had it all wrong, short a prediction of multiple inches of new snow by the time school buses needed to roll out on Monday. The new snow led to Monday’s cancellation of school across the Lynden district and all of north Whatcom County.

But the work for district maintenance personnel didn’t stop and Jim Frey, superintendent, had plenty more decisions to make.

Frey says that during inclement weather he hopes to make a decision about the next day of school by 8 p.m. the night before, giving families time to prep for no school, regular school or two-hour delays, such as was the case for the start time on Tuesday. But a final decision doesn’t come until 5:30 a.m. the day of school, just in case something changes overnight, as it did before school on Monday.

“After driving roads in the morning and assessing school campus conditions, a decision on the starting time or cancelation is made between 5:30 and 6 a.m.,” Frey says. “Our first priority is to provide for safe travels to school and home again in the afternoon and then getting school campuses ready for students and staff by clearing snow and ice on sidewalks and the parking lots.”

While Frey aims to get the message out to local media no later than 6 a.m., he doesn’t notify media if schools will run on time, but an on-time notice is placed on the district’s website.

Then comes the decision for activities. “Depending on a number of variables, we make decisions about activities and events by noon,” Frey says. “Again, if possible, we make these decisions earlier so people have as much time to plan as possible. Usually if school is cancelled for the day, activities and events are cancelled as well.”

Frey admits the process for determining the school day timing during inclement weather never runs as an exact science, but “we try to make sure travel to and from school is safe and our custodians and maintenance staff have time to get sidewalks and parking lots cleared and de-iced prior to students and staff arriving.”

After no school on Monday and a two-hour late arrival on Tuesday, school was back running as scheduled on Wednesday. But each day brings a new set of weather conditions and with it a new set of decisions.