How Do Schools Decide to Cancel Class?

Posted at 9:26 AM, Dec 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-13 10:05:32-05

ROCKFORD, Mich.– While most of us have snow in our front yards, many West Michigan students still had class.

Tom Schoen, with the Rockford Public School transportation department, is the man who helps check the safety of roads for bus drivers and commuters.

Schoen starts around 3:30 a.m.

“First thing is safety,” said Schoen. “Second thing is what’s going to happen in an hour, two hours from now.”

Many, if not most of the main roads and highways are clear as the temperatures are warm enough for the treatment to start working.

But there are 100 square miles in the Rockford school district, and a lot of terrain.

Schoan drives the problem areas, such as Tiffany and Nugent Avenues, which are snow-covered and hilly. He tests the two-wheel drive on his Jeep, seeing how well he can stop and not slide at the top of a hill.

“You can hold pretty well here,” explains Schoen. “Even though it looks icy. If you’re a bus driver who just picked up kids, you’d have to be able to have traction to get moving.”

For added assurance, Schoen gets feedback from coworkers in other parts of the county. And, by 5 a..m., he’s ready to make the call.

“The weather right now isn`t even worth considering a two-hour delay,” said Schoen. “It’s winter time so everybody is getting used to driving in this stuff.”