Schools cancel classes Wednesday after announcing 2-hour delay

Parents were frustrated as delays turned into a cancellations, but one local school district says it's all about making the safest choice for students. 

Posted on Feb. 5, 2014 at 6:46 p.m.

On Wednesday morning, Feb. 5, many local parents were planning on their children heading to school two hours later than usual. But after initially announcing a two-hour delay, several school districts -- including Elkhart, Concord and Goshen -- made the call to cancel the school day.

Parents responded with frustration on social media, worrying about child care and transportation for children who would now not be in school that day. 

Dawn Kissel, whose 8-year-old son is a student at Pinewood Elementary School, had already dropped her son off for before-school child care and continued on to her job in Goshen when school was canceled. 

"I understand if they want to close the school -- my frustration is that they are not doing it in a timely manner," Kissel said. 

She was in a similar situation earlier this winter, when county commissioners declared a state of emergency after her children were already at their school or day care. 

"My husband is a private contract snowplower, and he's out plowing snow -- he can't come get our kids," Kissel said. 

She would like school districts to decide whether to cancel school a little earlier in the day, so she has time to figure out child care.

Elkhart mom Melanie Watson said she didn't think Wednesday morning's weather was bad enough school needed to be canceled, but she added school districts are in a tough position when it comes to making those decisions. 

"I'm not sure there is much the school district can do," Watson said Wednesday. "I know they have to consider the kids who have to walk to school."

Watson said the delays and cancellations don't affect her family much when it comes to child care, since she's a stay-at-home mom. She is concerned, however, with the school year going into June as students make up missed days. 

Elkhart Community Schools spokesperson Shawn Hannon said Wednesday morning's weather conditions just hadn't improved enough to go ahead with the school day.

"When we make two-hour delay calls, that means three things," Hannon said. "We will be in session. Daylight will make things safer. And plows will have time to work."

But Wednesday morning, she said, daylight had not brought improved weather conditions, and snowplows still had plenty of work to do to make roads safe. 

Elkhart historically does not call delays, only to change to cancellations later, Hannon added. But the school didn't want a precedent to take priority over student safety. 

"We could have said, we are going to be a two-hour delay, and stuck by that, but in this case we decided to change our minds for students' safety," Hannon said. 

She pointed out that a delay has an effect on teachers and other staff too, as they come in at their normal starting time if it's safe for them to get there. 


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