Snow days require flurry of decision making

Mae Mastin, staff writer

Will school be canceled?

On cold or snowy winter days, students wait eagerly for the call letting them know that they get a day off. When it comes to calling snow or “cold” days, Joliet Township High School superintendent, Dr. McCarthy, has the last word, according to Dr. Gibson, Joliet West principal.

Still, many people and resources play a part in assisting the superintendent in the process of examining the many aspects of calling a snow day.

An email from the superintendent to school administrators detailing the situation on the seventh and eighth of January assured them that the decision to cancel school is never made lightly.

“There are a lot of factors that go into making a school closing decision. These decisions are not made in isolation,” Dr. McCarthy explained.

District personnel are consulted before the decision is finalized to be certain of the effects that the weather will have.

“We work very closely with all of our sender schools, Directors of Transportation, and do have to rely on weather predictions,” Dr. McCarthy stated in the email, adding later, “We monitor the situation very closely and continually keep informed of the weather predictions.”

The district has a specific temperature range that it considers when making the decision to close school, in addition to other circumstances.

“Our threshold for temperature is 30 below with wind chill,” she detailed.

According to, the high temperature for Wednesday, January 7, was seven degrees, with a low of negative nine. The high for Thursday, January 8, was 19, with a low of negative nine.

The WGN 9 Chicago Weather Center predicted approaching negative seven wind chills on Tuesday, but by early Thursday, those numbers had dropped to negative 30.

The email went on to state that the snow was also taken into consideration in the January closings.

“We did not reach that threshold either day however we had the added complication on Thursday of a prediction of blowing snow beginning at around 12:30 and being very heavy through rush hour, which made us concerned about dismissal time,” Dr. McCarthy wrote.

Amy Malizia, a freshman English teacher at West, related that although snow days are made up at the end of the school year, she is affected by them at the time of the closing.

Malizia explained that snow days can impact her teaching schedule “because I have my calendar planned out.” She elaborated that, due to finals at the end of the school year, the makeup days can have no effect in helping to catch up on the work.

School was also closed on Monday, February 2, bringing the total of canceled days to three. School will now run through Wednesday, June 3.

The school only makes up five snow or cold days. After the fifth school closing, the days are not made up at the end of the school year.

Students and staff are notified of any cancellations mainly through a mass phone call. The closings are also posted on social media and area radio stations’ websites including