While dozens of schools across the Quad-Cities called a snow day Tuesday, Davenport Community School District opted to stay open, at least for a few hours.
It was a decision that got mixed reactions from parents and grandparents who trekked through the snow and, later, slush to drop off and pick up students.
“I know kids need to go to school, but when the weather is bad, it’s bad,” said Jennifer Boyd, whose 14-year-old daughter attends West High School.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning with an estimated daytime snow accumulation of 5 inches. The snowfall slowed significantly by the time school let out, however, and the roads became slushy as the snow melted.
Cindy Broadie, a teacher at Villa Montesori School in Moline, had the day off Tuesday. Her 14-year-old son and her husband, Dave, a physical education teacher at Jefferson Elementary School in Davenport, weren’t so lucky.
Broadie said that it’s rare for Davenport schools to be open while those in the Illinois Quad-Cities are closed, but that the other districts might have jumped the gun when it came to calling a snow day.
“It’s hard for (administrators) to make that decision,” she said.
In a post on its Facebook page, the Davenport district said that when it comes to declaring a snow day, “The most important consideration is the safety of our students and staff. We also want to give our families as much notice as possible to allow them time to make childcare arrangements if school is closed.”
According to the post, the district said it uses a “deliberate process to make decisions on closing schools due to weather events.”
Officials begin the process at 3:30 a.m. by driving around city and county roads. Superintendent Art Tate said he keeps an eye on the roads and how often they will be plowed and keeps in contact with the National Weather Service to monitor snowfall radars.
He also stayed in contact with superintendents in surrounding districts. While travel might have been slow, the roads appeared to be OK Tuesday morning, Tate said.
“I thought that the routes would be safe and buses would be safe and people could travel safely on the roads,” he said.
Based on the district’s size, officials need to make a determination by 5 a.m. to give parents enough of a heads up, Tate said.
By mid-morning, Tate decided to dismiss classes two hours early and canceled all night activities.
He did so out of concern for high winds estimated at 30 mph, which kicked in about noon.
Parents were able to decide whether to keep their kids home because of weather concerns. Those students will receive an excused absence, district spokeswoman Dawn Saul said.
Saul said there were no issues with bus transportation either in the morning or after school let out.
There have only been two snow days in the district this year.
Jon Wiley, who has students at West, Wilson Elementary School and Williams Intermediate School called the decision to keep school open “ridiculous.”
“With every other school doing it, it just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Debby Jackson of Davenport said she had no problem getting to West to pick up her grandchild Tuesday afternoon. Jackson said the roads looked fine when she left for work around 9 a.m.
Some parents said it would have made more sense to delay school by a couple of hours to let the snow die down.