Morgan Jones | Web Editor-in-Chief
“I don’t fit on buses,” tweeted frustrated junior Blake Fisher.
When Avon superintendent Margaret Hoernemann declared Dec. 16 a normal school day via Twitter and advised student drivers to ride the bus, tweets criticizing the district’s decision were popular among students and parents alike: Fisher alone received 228 likes, and Hoernemann’s tweet garnered a total of over 100 comments.
Many concerns came from the voices of student drivers, and sophomore Olivia Simon was no exception to the trend.
“I don’t trust student drivers’ ability to drive in snow. Snow only happens every so often, and most of us are new drivers,” Simon said. “In fact, my first time driving in the snow was on the way to school, and I almost slid off of the road.”
Avon’s weather policies are subject to frequent criticism by students, and the chance of any school declaring a snow day is dependent on administrator discretion.
So, how exactly does Avon declare weather to be unsafe in pursuit of a snow day?
In the words of an official document posted on the ACSC school website:
“The process, timing and rationale for delays/cancellations due to inclement weather is a collaborative process with local authorities and area superintendents.”
If conditions are too sporadic to call a decision in the evening before, as they often are, the document states that staff will begin to personally drive the roads at around 4 a.m. on the morning of concern.
Afterwards, the document continues, administrator notes on weather conditions throughout the county are compared with those of local authorities before a final consensus is called.
Instead of canceling school, Avon officials often decide to cancel after-school activities and early morning sports practices as an alternate measure of student safety.
Dr. Hoernemann said there is no “magic formula” for the choice of a snow day, and that a district decision may not please everyone.
“Every single weather day must be assessed individually,” Hoernemann said. “What is appropriate for most may not be appropriate for all.”
Though some believe a snow day is the obvious solution to snow on the ground, time off from school can have unseen consequences.
The decision of a snow day must accommodate all students in the district, including elementary school students. Calling a snow day can often compromise child care circumstances and spark an added stress for parents, and even further, Avon students who receive free or reduced lunch have the added chance of going hungry during the day off. According to public records, 27% of AHS students alone take advantage of the lunch program.
Perhaps the biggest concern of all, forecasts can often be incorrect. If a snow day is called in light of expected snow that hasn’t fallen yet, the decision can create conflict for the district if no flurries actually pass through.
Sophomore Anna Bose, however, still continues to question why Avon so rarely decides in favor of snow days when other surrounding schools seem to be much more lenient.
“Compared to other schools, if they’re calling snow days, then we should too,” Bose said. “I think it’s a little ridiculous.”
Dr. Hoernemann disagrees.
“Last year, we did have a snow day when some of the other Hendricks County schools were in attendance. Clearly the e-learning days have given us some flexibility,” Dr. Hoernemann said.
Dr. Hoernemann, however, leaves the ultimate decision of student attendance up to parents:
“Parents are the ultimate decision makers about their children attending school. If you do not agree with our decision, you as a parent have every right to keep your child home if you believe conditions are unsafe. Likewise, if you have a teenage driver for whom driving conditions are difficult, he/she may ride the bus.”