Winter Safety & Calling a Snow Day
Winter Safety & Calling a Snow Day
Ted Lysiak
Thursday, December 05, 2019

Winter is now upon us in northeast Ohio and, like dressing for winter, a few more layers are necessary when it comes to keeping students safe! Here are a few facts to follow that will ensure a safe winter season for our students.

Transportation Patience is key when the weather turns bad. With road conditions changing quickly, extra time may be needed to get from stop to stop. Our staff will send our reminders and alerts via text message, social media (Facebook, Twitter), the JAG Mobile App or on our website at  Typically you can expect an alert if your child’s bus will be delayed by more than 15 minutes or if there is a sub driver on the route.  

Be aware of the DANGER ZONE when loading or unloading your bus. The danger zone is an area around 10 feet around the entire bus.  The danger zone is especially important when the bus stop area may be slippery. Being extra cautious in this area will ensure that the driver is able to see you. Waiting for the bus to come to a complete stop before entering this area will also ensure the safety of the students.

Concentration is key to a safe ride.  This means students can help the driver by following the four simple bus rules.  Regardless of age, there are four rules that ALL students should follow when the bus is moving:

  1. Back on Back

  2. Seat on Seat

  3. Feet on Floor

  4. Talk Quietly

Safety is always the driver’s top priority. Having students follow these simple rules will help ensure that all students will have a safe trip to and from school. 

The School Bus is statistically one of the safest ways to travel.  If you are a resident of the district we will always be available to transport your child on a bus, even if you usually are not a bus rider. To arrange for pickup simply call the bus garage at 330.527.4250. 

Snow Days
If there is one thing that increases the number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes a school can have, it is a snow day! Every year this is a decision nobody, except for the student body, looks forward to making.  A snowy forecast, cold temps and wind chill advisories all mean a sleepless night is in the future for many staff members. Calling off school is costly and a major decision, but student safety is ALWAYS the top priority.  

Calling off school is not an easy decision.  As a parent, I realize the inconvenience it causes many families with last-minute child care.  As a teacher, I know how a day off disrupts lessons that have been planned. As the superintendent, I realize the lost instructional time it causes. In the end, the call is always made in the interest of student safety.

Is there a magic number of inches of snow needed to call school?  Is there a specific street that has to be impassable? The answer to each of these questions is, “No”.  The driving factor when calling school off is always the safety of students.

When poor weather is forecast the transportation/maintenance supervisor and I arrive at the school at about 4 A.M. to start the process. We review our snow removal plan and I begin driving the streets of Freedom, Nelson and Garrettsville between 4:00 and 5:30 AM. We look for how passable and slippery the streets are for a school bus and if the road crews have been able to keep up with the storm. 

We also start calling members of our “snow team” to get a clearer picture before we make a call. I will call the village police chief and township road crews.  They are all out on the roads early and are usually alerted of any accidents or areas that may present a challenge for our buses.

Once the district streets have been assessed we meet back at the board office to examine the weather forecast.  We look to see if the weather will be improving, maintaining or worsening as the day progresses. If the roads are impassable but the forecast is promising and trucks are working on the roads we may try to call a two-hour delay.  This will allow time for the roads to be cleared by the village and township crews. If the roads are impassable and the forecast is poor we will likely call a snow day. Again, student safety is the driving factor when considering the cancellation of school. 

We make every effort to make this decision by 6:00 AM and begin our notification procedures immediately because we understand how this decision can impact families.

Cold Days
The criteria for a ‘cold day’ There have been cases when the temperatures have been too cold to have school. When temperatures reach below -10 or when there are sustained wind chills of -15 or below we will call off school.  We look at the hourly forecast on multiple weather websites and use wind chill charts from the National Weather Service.

Important things to know Garfield Schools transports all residential students.  If your child is typically a walker on a day with poor weather, we will pick them up if you call the bus garage at 330.527.4250.

The decision to call off afternoon and evening activities will be made and posted on the district website, Facebook, Twitter pages and on the JAG Mobile App by noon. Often times this call involves coordinating with other districts and may take some extra time.

Where to check for delays/closings If you are a parent, you should make sure you have your email and phone number correctly listed in your Final Forms. If you need assistance with changing this information in Final Forms our school secretaries will be happy to assist you in making certain these are accurate. We will always send mass notifications (email, voice, text and mobile alerts) first to notify families of a school closing.

We will also notify the major television (3, 5, 8, 19 and 43) and radio stations (FM: 99.5, 105.7, 98.1, 106.5, 100.7, 102.9  AM: 1100).

Finally, you can always check the district website (, Facebook page ( or Twitter feed (

Makeup Days The State has defined a minimum number of hours each school must be in session each year (910 hours for K-6 and 1,001 hours for grades 7-12).  While we exceed that number by over 15 days, our negotiated agreements state that we will make up any time missed beyond five (5) days. These days will be added to the end of the school year. 

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly at the office (330.527.4336) or on my cell (216.534.7413).

Go G-Men!