MILLBURN, NJ - A year and a half ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated the coastline, destroying many homes and taking electricity away from thousands of people. Without power and with dangerous road conditions, Millburn Schools were forced to close for six consecutive days, and many feared that those days would have to be made up during April Break. By making up school on Martin Luther King Day and the two previously planned teacher convention days in Atlantic City, and with the blessing of Mother Nature, however, we were spared.
This year has not been so kind. 2014 has experienced an extraordinary amount of snow, with 12.5 inches of accumulation on the most recent snowfall alone. For Millburn High School students, full school weeks are an item of the past. Yesterday marks the sixth snow day of the school year. This unusual amount of snow has required Millburn Township Public schools to make many decisions about whether to maintain school or to call a snow day or delayed opening. Safety has remained the primary concern, but since any additional snow days now have to be made up, the decision is not as automatic as it would have been otherwise. (Only three possible snow days are accounted for in the township school calendar, to meet the requirement of a 180 day school year.)
In a recent letter to parents, the Superintendant of Millburn Township Public Schools, Dr. Crisfield, wrote, “per the officially adopted calendar, make-up days come from the April recess, starting with the latest day and working backwards.” This means that, as of now, the last three days of April Break—Wednesday, April 23 through Friday, April 25—will be full school days.
The effects of the snow upon the high school environment have been varied. Midterms, originally planned for Thursday, January 23, through Tuesday the 28th, were pushed back a day, as a snow day on the 22nd delayed mandatory review days. This had variable effects upon students and faculty. Some students were overjoyed because of extra time to study, while others wished that they could have taken their history midterms on Friday and focused on math and science over the weekend.
High school teachers and faculty have had varying opinions about the storm as well. Social studies teacher Peter Urban stated that, “Enough is enough… I don’t want to come to school during April Break. But Dr. Crisfield made the right decision in calling all these snow days.”
Mathematics Department Chair Neil Cooperman offered a similar viewpoint, emphasizing the importance of the safety of the students. However, he added that, “the biggest problem with the recent state of school closings is the interruption of the flow of instruction and learning. It has been very difficult to get classes back on track after midterms and the disruptions attributable to the snow and ice.”
Dr. Crisfield has recognized the diversity of viewpoints, as stated in his recent letter: “Part of me wants to apologize for calling so many of these things already this year…[but] there are just as often people who think we should be MORE conservative in our weather calls… Much is at stake, and no matter which way you go, somebody is going to be unhappy.”
There is no definite way to determine if school should be off or not, but at least everyone has remained safe so far and school should return to normal after February break.
The six snow days this year have been on December 10, January 3, January 22, February 3, February 5, and February 13. There have been a few delayed openings as well.
In all cases of extreme snow or weather, everyone should remain inside if possible and continue to keep safe and warm.