But good lord almighty this winter and the school closures associated with it have to end or someone is going to go crazy. That someone is me, by the way. I’m the one who is going to go mad. They are fine and perfectly happy to never have class again.
Since the beginning of the calendar year, the boys have had 28 days of school that weren’t either delayed by two hours or canceled all together. They’ve had 18 days with delays or where they stayed home.
DISCLAIMER: You may think I am exaggerating for effect, as I am wont to do. However, these are not my numbers. They were compiled by neighbor and local wizard Candy, who is the only person I know in real life who has been on AND WON Jeopardy. Also at a neighborhood block party she absolutely killed a karaoke rendition of 99 Luffballons. In German. So she’s pretty much what passes for a legend around here and her numbers are not to be questioned.
Look, the occasional snow day is unavoidable. Actually, that isn’t true. If you move someplace with no snow then I guess they are completely avoidable. We’ve had a cold, snowy winter, I get it.
But things around here have gotten out of hand.
It is forty degrees outside today. That’s a heat wave by recent standards. At eight o’clock this morning I stood in the backyard in a t-shirt. The neighborhood was alive with the sound of dripping as the ice and snow wilted under the steady and loving gaze of the sun. It’s actually one of the nicer days we have had in a while.
The boys are home.
School was cancelled again today. Initially they were on a two hour delay which, this morning, was changed over to a whole day off. There is no reason they shouldn’t be in school. The district cited “icy conditions.” It was a little icy this morning. Very little. The roads were perfectly fine. The sidewalks were treacherous but passable if you went slowly. Some of the neighborhood people were pretty exercised about the frozen water. On the neighborhood Facebook pages people were pretty freaked out that yesterday afternoon and evening when the ice was really coming down, their crossover SUVs and mini-vans were sliding down their driveways. There was a rash of this in the area, apparently. I’ve never really heard of it happening before but, for whatever reason, unattended vehicle movement was all the rage last night. I came up with a way to quantify this. I call it Honda Odyssey Slippage Scale, or HOSS for short.
To find out what the HOSS currently stands at you simply determine how much a suburban weight Honda Odyssey, by which I mean a Honda Odyssey with one car seat, one bag full of soccer gear, 13 empty Capri Sun packages and 7 kid DVDs, will slide down an icy driveway having no less than a 30 degree incline.
Last night the HOSS, if Facebook is to be believed, was “at least 1 inch. Maybe 2!” So, you know, this is pretty much the new Ice Age we are looking at here people, by which I mean we are all going to die of frostbite and not that one of the DVDs used as weight in the HOSS measurement was the fifth movie in the popular franchise about wooly mammoths starving to death.
DISCLAIMER: I’ve never seen any of the Ice Age movies so it is possible no wooly mammoths starve to death. Possible, if not historically accurate.
Anyway, no school today. Again.
There are several factors which have led to our school board letting the kids out more often than empty Capri Sun packages get dropped on the floor of a min-van. I shall set these reasons out in something approaching order of influence on the number of days off, with the first being the smallest determinate factor and the last being the most influence in the amount of my mind I am losing.
It has been a cold, snowy winter.
Our county is big. Really big. I learned in Kentucky History in seventh grade that when Kentucky was first broken off of Virginia to be its own state anyone with gumption and a long enough ball of twine could carve their very own county. Virginia was actually like this as well, which is why out of all the states, regardless of size, Virginia and Kentucky have the third and fourth most counties. I can only assume that Mr. Loudoun, who founded our county, had a roadside attraction sized ball of twine, because we take up a lot of real estate.
DISCLAIMER: I have no idea how counties are made. I apologize to Mr. Beatty, my seventh grade history teacher for embarrassing him. Mr. Beatty was an amazing teacher, by the way. He was a Civil War re-enactor and one day brought a musket to school and fired it off in our classroom-just powder, no ball. That sounds insane, I know, but I can to this day tell you how a musket works. It makes me laugh to realize that at the time he was way younger than I am now. Also that if he tried that incredibly engaging lesson plan today they would throw him in jail.
Anyway, our county is big. We live on the eastern side that, up until ten years ago was mostly farmland. There is also the western side that is still mostly farmland. Well, farmland and foothills. With gravel roads. Twisty, gravel roads.
So the western side of the county gets worse weather, on average, and has a more difficult time dealing with it when they do. The school board has to deal with the whole county so we’ve had a bunch of days when our roads were fine in the east but the west was a mess.
I’m sympathetic, to a point. However, at some juncture we’ve got to cut our losses. On a recent snow day the school board announced that there were 28 bus routes in the county that they deemed unsafe. That…that’s not a lot. Let’s say there are 1400 kids on those 28 routes. There are 70,000 kids (at least) in the school system. That’s like .02%. I feel pretty sure that .02% of kids are out every day for some reason or another. Don’t make me stay at home fielding an unending stream of questions from T2 for a measly .02%! Let those kids’ parents answer their questions!
It’s been suggested that, for the purposes of snow days, we cut the county in half. This seems like a fine idea to me. It is always shot down because people claim that teachers might not be able to get to whatever schools they work at. That seems valid. It’s also what substitutes are for! And also, there’s got to be some teachers on the eastern side of the country who teach in the western side. West side gets cancelled, they can spend a day in the flatlands with us! Everybody wins!
DISCLAIMER: I don’t know if everybody wins in that scenario. I do though.
Finally, there was one snow day that wasn’t a snow day and that is what has caused all the problems.
We have a new school superintendent this year. Ultimately I guess go or no go is his call. We didn’t have any snow before Christmas. The first real bad day of weather we had was the second day back from winter break. It really snowed and it did so right when everyone was trying to get to school. Every school district in the area cancelled. It was basically the worst day of weather we’d had for a couple of years. Our district didn’t cancel school.
It was a mess. People lost their minds. Social media blew up on this guy. There were variations of “I don’t know how you did things in Georgia, but around here we have weather problems.” It wasn’t just Georgia, he was also accused of being from Florida, Texas and Arizona. I think he was really from New England somewhere but nobody let facts stop them. I’m sure the guy was super pleased he chose to take the job when fifteen year olds started hitting his Twitter account calling him a dumbass. The Washington Post and a bunch of news outlets basically had the same sentiment, although they said it nicer and with less misspellings.
Dude had a bad day, is what I am saying. I am certain he is a good guy, a fine educator and generally good at his job. It was a judgment call, he made a mistake, but nobody got hurt. I think fallout, however, is that it made the whole school administration as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs that are covered in ice and have Instagram accounts. Plus, they have to deal with a client base –the parents- who are completely nuts and totally fickle and completely second guess every decision they make. So now, in order to try and not have another day like that first one, school gets cancelled at the first site of a flake.
And here we sit. Again. I’m at my desk. T2 is on the couch in his man cave peppering me with questions. T1 and his friend from across the street are upstairs. It sounds like they are wrestling but they are probably just eating everything in the fridge and stomping around. Hopefully they will have school tomorrow.
DISCLAIMER: The HOSS scale is currently at zero.