Schools have three-hour delay on first day back
Officials say late arrival provides safer travel
MECOSTA, OSCEOLA COUNTIES — On their first day back after winter break, schools in the Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District were faced with a three-hour delay because of poor road conditions.
Big Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Tim Haist said delays are made when it seems likely that travel conditions will improve later in the day.
"Today's decision was made because it looked like the weather was going to warm up," Haist said. "We also wanted to give the road commission more time to put some salt and sand on the roads."
Chippewa Hills School District Superintendent Bob Grover said, with the Mecosta County Road Commission setting out at 7 a.m., this allows for plenty of time for the roads to be salted and sanded before buses begin picking up students.
"It's night and day," he said. "It makes a huge difference."
At the end of the 2018-19 school year, superintendents in the MOISD made the decision to change their delay time to three hours to give the road commission more time to sand and salt roads.
"We made the decision for this year to move to a three-hour delay," Haist said, adding that in the past, the MOISD previously would have shorter delay times.
According to Grover, the three-hour delay seems to be the right amount of time for the roads to be cleaned up, while also allowing for students to come to school with plenty of time to learn and still have lunch.
Additionally, Haist said making the decision to move to a three-hour delay gives parents, students and bus drivers the chance to travel to school safely in the daylight after the sun has already melted some of the snow.
By having a three-hour delay rather than closing for the day, schools also don't have to count the time as a full cancellation when it comes to making up time at the end of the year. In Michigan, school districts are allowed six snow days before they have to add make-up days.
Haist said school districts in the MOISD put a lot of thought into deciding to have a delay or a snow day. He also said school officials had previously reached out to the community, and parents indicated they would like to see more delays as opposed to cancellations.
While it can sometimes be challenging to choose between delaying school for three hours or canceling completely, school districts have to do their best to make a decision that works for everybody, Grover said.
"I have to look at it universally when I'm making these decisions," he said. "If it's too inconvenient for everyone or if the roads don't look like they're getting better, then there's no sense in even trying to get people on the roads."