The Snow Day That Could’ve Been

Peter Jones, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Swamped by the late semester workload, and with midterm exams rapidly approaching, many Latin students might find themselves constantly checking the weather forecast in the desperate hope of a possible snow day. This is not very surprising, as snow days are often more appreciated than scheduled days off – perhaps for the pleasant surprise, or perhaps because they evoke nostalgia for the joy they brought back in elementary school.

Whatever the reason, while everyone can agree that both a sleep-in and an extra day to complete assignments is worth the anticipation, it seems that few understand the school’s criteria concerning whether or not the weather conditions warrant a day off.

One instance in which uncertainty surrounded the administration’s decision was Monday, November 26, just a few weeks ago. A fairly severe blizzard enveloped northern Illinois, hitting the northwest suburbs the hardest, but still resulting in hundreds of flight cancellations and about 7 inches of snow within the city limits., albeit an infamously unreliable tool, determined there was a 92% chance of closing. Dozens of schools, including St. Ignatius and Depaul College Prep, did close after all, but CPS (and, obviously, Latin) elected to remain open.

Ultimately, it did snow a little less than the foreboding weather forecasts predicted, and, after a few disgruntled remarks from tired students, but basically no objection, the school day went like any other.

It is easy, without the burden of making the decision to shut down the school, to resort to immediate complaints when the 5:00 am email’s subject line doesn’t proclaim “NO CLASS.” However, it’s important to acknowledge that Latin does actually put a lot of thought into the needs and safety of its students.

As Mr. Greer, Interim Upper School Director, said, “Mr. Dunn, when he makes the final call, is mindful of the weather of the whole city. Since many students, increasingly so, are coming from all parts of the city and suburbs, the weather forecast throughout the entire area is considered . . . Safety is, of course, the most important thing.”

But what exactly does being “considered” mean, in this instance? Well, the school’s front office takes a look at what other schools are doing, as well as a handful of reports and statements. “While we used to follow CPS,” Mr. Greer continued, “that isn’t our procedure anymore – we do take other schools’ decisions into account, but aren’t held to that completely.” The City of Chicago also releases a brief on what measures they have taken to ensure safe transportation, like snow plowing or salting the roads. As Mr. Greer further said, this report is considered, as well as CPS’ statement, and, of course, an extensive weather forecast.

Also, some people are under the impression that each weather-related cancellation is added on to the end of the year in the form of a make-up day. “That is not the case,” Mr. Greer assured. “While some other schools do end up doing that, we don’t.”

Considering that Chicago winters are well known to be temperamental, and that it’s only December, it’s not unlikely that the school will soon be faced with another, similar decision. Regardless of what the outcome might be, it’s comforting, at least, that they have the right priorities in mind.