Snow Day Behind the Scenes

Margo Williams The energy at school last Thursday afternoon was infectious; students were cheering in the stairwells, high-fiving, and I swear I saw more than one senior skipping down the hall to their next class. Believe me when I say that this article isn’t meant to call the decision the administration made to have a snow day into question. I high fived more than one person that I didn’t know when I found out that we weren’t going to have school on Friday. That said, I was curious how the decision was made. Did Mr. Dunn make an executive decision after conferring with other school’s heads? Did Ms. Rodriguez? Did a student hack into the school’s email and announce school would be canceled? Probably not, but in an effort to gain some clarity on how the decision was made, I met with Ms. Rodriguez to ask a few questions. She said that the conversation began on Wednesday at the weekly Senior Administration meeting when the weather forecast began to raise concerns. Contrary to my initial understanding, the Senior Administration does not consist of faculty that are most closely associated with the Senior class, nor is it composed of any members of the Senior class. Mr. Alexander (Chief Financial Officer), Ms. Brooks (Lower School Director), Mr. Cronister (Director of Student Life), Mr. Dunn (Head of School), Ms. Greenwood (Assistant Head of School), Ms. Hobbs (Director of Development), Ms. Horvath (Upper School Assistant Director), Ms. O’Dea (Director of Communications), Ms. Provencher (Assistant to the Head of School), Ms. Rodriguez (Upper School Director), Ms. Sampey (Middle School Director), Mr. Simon (Director of Technology), and Mr. Silverstein (Director of Studies) are all members of Latin’s Senior Administration. Members come from every department of Latin, from lower to middle to upper school and sometimes all three. The group decided on Wednesday that they would reconvene on Thursday at noon to assess whether a snow day would be necessary.  An image forms in my head of them all walking into their meeting Taylor Swift “Bad Blood” style… they knew they knew they were about to make our week. Faculty at other independent schools in Chicago were in close contact with Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Dunn to discuss the likelihood of their schools closing on Friday because of the inclement weather. That said, Latin made its decision to cancel school on Friday before CPS did. Ms. Rodriguez made it clear that Latin doesn’t base their decisions on snow days at other schools’, but keeps in touch with other administrations to avoid oversight of any factors that should be considered. The foremost factor is the safety of students, faculty, and parents in the community. The administration is likely to cancel school only if students are unable to drive or take public transportation. When I asked if the snow that fell on Friday was worthy, in hindsight, of canceling school, Ms. Rodriguez said that timing was everything. Because the snow fell primarily during the times we get dropped off and picked up from school, it was unsafe for Latin to stay open. If, however, the snow had fallen at 2am the morning before, then the snow day might not have been necessary as safety wouldn’t be called into question. Friday’s snow day didn’t come without consequence. The Girls Basketball Team had to reschedule their game for Saturday morning and the school play that was meant to run on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday was cut short. Foreseeing this, Coach Bower and Mr. Schneider were both invited to attend the Senior Administration’s Thursday meeting. While these changes were certainly bummers for those involved, even some of the actors in the play have said that they think it was worth the impromptu day off. The “better safe than sorry” mindset of the Senior Administration last Thursday was much appreciated by the entire student body, particularly since the snow day happened to fall on a Friday. ]]>