Snow Day for Tens of Thousands, School Day for Others

Posted at: 03/05/2013 5:35 PM
Updated at: 03/06/2013 6:04 AM
By: Naomi Pescovitz

Tens of thousands of kids got a lucky break Tuesday with a snow day. But in Minneapolis, St. Paul and a handful of other districts, no such luck.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul canceled most after school activities. By mid-morning, St. Paul decided to let most middle and high school students out 45 minutes early. The district said the early dismissal was in an effort to avoid delays for later buses picking up elementary school students.

"The decision to close the school system is no simple matter. The safety and well being of students and staff is our top priority. The expectation is that schools will remain open, if at all possible, for uninterrupted student learning on scheduled school days. Before making the decision to close school due to extreme weather, Superintendent Silva consults with a variety of experts both within and outside the district. SPPS transportation personnel travel various bus routes to confirm accessibility. The district makes it a practice to decide by 5:30 a.m. whether school will be dismissed that day," a school spokesperson said in a statement.

Judy and Rich Wirtz rearranged their day to pick up their granddaughter Nastazeea, a freshman at Central High School in St. Paul.

"I wish they would have closed the school right away," Judy Wirtz said.

"All of the sudden half a day later, what are the rest of these parents supposed to do with their kids when they come home early. Parents who I think had a tough time reorganizing," Richard Wirtz said.

St. Paul bus driver Larry Cardinal stood by the district's decision.

"If we didn't do this, then that might be hard to get there, to that next school on time and then you have the little kids just waiting that much longer," Cardinal said.

Nastazeea and her classmates agreed.

"Oh, I loved it, the class that it was announced in went crazy so we were all really happy," said Central High School Freshman Nastazeea Kostohris

Minneapolis Public Schools also released a statement regarding its decision to stay open.

The statement said, in part: "On Tuesday, it was determined that roadways were safe for travel to school. Transportation teams assessed routes in both personal vehicles and school buses prior to the start of service. Crews also worked to clear sidewalks and bus stops, including pull off areas. Morning buses were 70 percent on time and there were no reported accidents."

Weather related tardies or absences were excused in both St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District said school was canceled Tuesday because of snow and unplowed parts of the district.