GRAND RAPIDS, Mich - Kids in the Grand Rapids Public School district may be asking their parents these days, "What's a snow day?"
That's because there hasn't been a day called off because of snow since last school year. It appears, the school district has successfully gone through a West Michigan winter without taking a day off. Certainly, it's a remarkable accomplishment considering how bad this winter was, at times.
For some, it's been the longest winter ever. The meteorologists, in final evaluation, will likely say this was an average winter with approximately 75 inches of snow. Grand Rapids usually sees about 74.9 inches of snow each season.
Undoubtedly, GRPS was one of the few, if not the only school system not to close the entire year. The district only took two snow days in 2017.
"We have a very rigorous system we use to evaluate whether the conditions are adequate to have school or to cancel it," GRPS spokesman John Helmholdt said.
Helmholdt says the administrators rely on information from city bus drivers, school bus drivers, taxi cab drivers and others to determine whether the school system calls for a snow day. Considering the school system is in an urban environment, often the roads are cleared quicker than rural roads in a non-urban school district.
He said GRPS also takes into account it's population, acknowledging some children need the school environment.
"If the road conditions are such that we believe it can be safe for students to get to school, to and from, we're going to lean to keep school going," Helmholdt said.
Multiple school districts across West Michigan have had more than a handful of snow days. The limit set by the State of Michigan is six snow days before districts have to make up time.
Helmholdt said a heating problem at Union High School isn't causing disruptions in classes there. The district is using space heaters to help heat several rooms in the building. He said the temperature is ranging from 65 degrees to 75 degrees.
"By and large, there has been a minimal impact," Helmholdt said. "Hopefully we'll get through a few weeks here and Mother Nature will warm up to us and bring us spring here."
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