After Monday night’s snowfall, some local students might have wished for a school closing.
Both Franklin County and Frankfort Independent Schools were in session on Tuesday, but the districts were watching the weather that morning.
Decisions to close school for snow days come about every winter, and they affect many students and their families.
FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp, Assistant Superintendent for District Services John Fields and Transportation Director Brad McKinney get up at about 3:30 a.m. to check roads on possible snow days. The superintendent said that they each have a section of the county that they drive through and they communicate with what they are seeing through bus radios.
The school district also communicates with the County Road Department about which roads will be or are treated and the temperature of the roads.
The first county schools bus starts at around 5:20 a.m. to warm up before beginning its route to pick up kids.
“I have to make the call before that bus starts,” Kopp said.
A consensus about keeping school in session is reached among Kopp, Fields and McKinney, though Kopp has the final say. Once the decision is made, FCS contacts news outlets and posts on social media about any cancellations. Families of students may also get an automated call through OneCall, which usually comes between 5:30 and 6 a.m.
FIS employees begin checking roads around 4 a.m. and communicate with Emergency Management and the City of Frankfort about any hazardous conditions, said Superintendent Houston Barber. FIS buses may start earlier in the day to give more time to get students to school. Barber said that he is in a group chat with other local superintendents who discuss whether they are considering canceling school.
Usually FIS makes announcements about school closings by 6 a.m. and publicizes information through news outlets, social media, OneCall and Infinite Campus, he said.
“It’s not just a random call. It takes time and energy,” Barber said.
Besides snow, other weather factors that may cause a cancellation are cold temperatures, wind chills and ice, Kopp said. Barber also noted those factors and added that FIS looks at conditions of buildings and whether enough staff will be available to manage the schools for the day.
FCS does have 10 NTI, or Non-Traditional Instruction Days, allotted by the state, which allows the district to give instruction to students outside of class. FIS does not use NTI days.
“We are always going to choose safety first,” Kopp said.