Letters: Snow and Ice

Last year I wrote to The Current commenting on snow days and snow delays from school. Not much has changed. This habit of closing or delaying school for every weather warning is one of the most exasperating aspects of life for working parents in the Hudson Valley. Sometimes school is closed or delayed when just an inch of snow is predicted. Parents must cancel work at the last minute, sometimes missing opportunities that have been planned months or weeks in advance, and scramble to find and pay for alternative childcare that might not be available the moment a snowflake shows up.

It snows here and gets cold and icy every winter. Climate change or not, it will likely still snow here and get cold and icy every winter. Is it not possible for the school districts to collaborate with the municipalities to factor this into their planning? Is it not possible to get the plows and sanders out in time for the school run? Or to have an alternative bus route for snowy mornings?

Everyone else seems to manage pretty well. The economy does not stop. Shops, banks, offices and the railway remain open, and yet children are left behind because school shuts its doors. If we continue like this, Hudson Valley children are guaranteed a stunted education while their parents struggle more than ever to make ends meet, all because of the weather.

Zoe Antitch, Cold Spring

Main Street merchants should be reminded that they must shovel and clear the ice in front of their businesses. The same goes for the bed-and-breakfast and houses on lower Main, who in my experience rarely shovel. On Feb. 15 I was walking to the train and slipped on black ice in front of Ellen Hayden Galleries. I was thinking to myself as I approached — wow, they finally cleared the snow! And wham, down I went. I was soaking wet and had to go home and change. I missed my train and was late for work.

Janet Roman, Cold Spring

Editor’s note: According to the Village of Cold Spring code, owners and occupants of each building in the village have up to 18 hours after a snowfall to clear a 3-foot-wide path in front of their buildings. In addition, the sidewalks in front of businesses must be clear between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. If ice can’t be removed within 18 hours, the code says it must be covered with enough sand or calcium chloride (rock salt and salt are prohibited) that pedestrians can walk over it safely.

4 thoughts on “Letters: Snow and Ice

  1. I would not want to be in the position of having to make these decisions about weather-related delays. You can never make everyone happy, and frankly, it’s not about making everyone happy, it’s about making the best effort to keep everyone safe. People have to recognize that this decision does not come lightly and it’s not about them and their inconvenience. Just because their child could safely make it to school doesn’t mean that his teacher and classmates can. Even those who live close enough to walk to school face treacherous conditions, unshoveled walkways, and risks from slippery conditions, falling ice and downed tree limbs or power lines.

    Buses face even more treacherous conditions as they try to safely navigate roads like Lane Gate and East Mountain Road South. It’s also important to note that there are considerable changes in conditions within just a couple of miles. What looks like no big deal in the village can be impassable a mile up the hill.

    The people who make these decisions literally have the lives of our children, teachers and staff in their hands. I appreciate that they take time to consider safety first, and take all the factors into account before making a decision. This must be a monumental and mostly thankless task. It’s made considerably more difficult when people complain either way.

    The school’s responsibility and priority is keeping kids and staff safe. A parent’s responsibility is to have contingency plans in place in the event of inclement weather.
    Personally, I applaud the school and the parties in charge of making these decisions for using their best judgment to keep staff and students safe.

  2. Of course safety should always be the primary concern that is precisely why more and more parents want to find the safest solution to get their kids to school when there is no heavy snow or severe weather on the forecast.

    Throughout the Northeast, Midwest, and Canada, people also have country and mountain roads, and they care about children safety as much as we do, but you can plan on going to school with anything less than a foot of snow on the ground, school bus routes have alternate “snow routes” that may be used when snow and ice make road conditions hazardous at higher elevations. When school buses operate on these snow routes, students will have a different bus stop location and time than on the regular route.

    Why can’t we do that?

  3. I am not sure the point of my comment came across, so I apologize if I was not clear. No one is anti-safety here. The point is that every winter we have snow and ice. The question is, how can the different departments within the community better collaborate with each other so we can get the buses running — safely — and children and teachers to and from school — safely — and minimize the closings to only when absolutely necessary.

    As another commentator noted, there are plenty of other jurisdictions in North America that face similar or worse conditions during winter and where school is not closed.

    Regarding the point about a parent’s responsibility, of course parents are responsible for their children and they do their best, but to have to plan childcare around the weather is no mean feat: sometimes the notice of a delay or closing comes just a few hours before school starts, and it’s expensive, too. This is not about inconvenience — though it really is inconvenient — it’s about common sense.

  4. Actually, schools in Canada, Chicago and Michigan are having the same conversations we are. Many of those districts have had over a dozen snow days (some are up to 16!) this year already. Many schools are looking at alternatives to snow days such as continuing instruction via internet. Not ideal, but kids still get their lessons and everyone stays safe.