In the coming winter, starting on Dec. 21, RBHS will have yet another schedule variation.
To decrease the number of inclement weather days used by the district, CPS will begin using a late start schedule for minor weather issues to give the city time to clear the roads or the temperature to rise, as last year the snow day count reached the double digits.
“Sometimes school is cancelled due to slick roads from an overnight refreeze,” Assistant Principal of Operations Brian Gaub said. “But the late start can be used if the roads are forecast to thaw after the sun comes out and we don’t miss a full day.”
Now, if there is a small amount of snow or ice, or frigid temperatures that will rise later in the day, the district will run on a late start schedule, with all CPS schools starting two hours later and concluding at the normal time.
“Inclement weather days are state law. School districts are required to build six days into the school calendar,” CPS Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark said. “The legislation also determines how days are made up if school districts exceed 10 days. State law also outlines the number of instructional days that are required for schools.”
Early morning temperatures are often much colder than in the afternoon, especially if the sun has not risen yet. One of the reasons for cancelling school with an extreme low temperature or wind chill is that young children often have to wait outside for long periods of time for buses, which can cause health concerns among parents.
“I think it’s appropriate and necessary to protect the smaller children,” sophomore Stephanie Zhang said.
Because the school day for RBHS would start at 10:55 a.m. in such a situation and still end at 4:05 p.m., classes would be much shorter, and lunch would be very early in the school day, with no Bruin Block classes meeting,
even if the late start day was on a Wednesday or Thursday.
“It would be nice to have a shorter school day,” Zhang said. “But it would be confusing to have yet another schedule and have to cut down on class time.”
The shorter days would not be considered an inclement weather day meaning extra days would not be added to the end of the year. Baumstark believes the daily routines would not be disrupted by the change, although she does realize every method has a potential downside.
“Busing will still be provided, just two hours later. Dismissal times are the same,” Baumstark said.
“Families that chose to drive children to school will need to be aware of the new procedure. There are positives and negatives to any inclement weather situation.”
How the schedule would affect extracurricular activities and athletics remains unknown. After school clubs and athletic competitions would not be impeded because the weather would be acceptable by 10:55 a.m., however activities before school may be postponed or cancelled because of the early morning weather.
“Activities and athletics will still have to be decided case by case,” Gaub said. “Lots of variables with winter travel [and] road conditions can vary within only a few miles of distance.”
Another concern parents will have to take into consideration is how their children get to school, should they depend on a parent ride in the morning. A late start would cause parents to either have to take off work to care for and transport their child to school, or change their plans in some way.
“We have notified families and businesses in the community about the new option for handling inclement weather days,” Baumstark said, “so that families and businesses can begin making plans for how to best handle each situation that may occur. Decisions will be made based on what is safe for all students.”
By Luke Chval