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Schools close for snow and cold. Do we need tornado days, too?

Marshall Shepherd is director of the University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences Program and a professor in the department of geography. He also hosts the Weather Channel’s Sunday talk show "WX Geeks."

In a piece for Forbes, Shepherd discusses the closing of schools when tornadoes are predicted, asking, "Are we in the era of the 'Tornado Day' for school systems? Many people, certainly kids, are aware of the 'snow day.' Snow days are often used in parts of the country not equipped to properly clear roads of ice and snow. In Georgia, I have seen school systems close because the weather was 'too cold' for kids to stand at bus stops."

It is an interesting article, which discusses whether students are safer in schools during tornadoes or at home. I tend to agree with Valerie Ritterbusch, president of WeatherCall Services, LLC, who says in the piece:

The policy of sending students home means you’re likely sending many of them home alone which may be a mobile home, especially in poor rural areas of the country. Once home, video games easily drone out an approaching storm...When faced with a choice of sending children home unsupervised or keeping them in a site built school structure where adults can oversee sheltering them in interior hallways, the plan we at WeatherCall would want our children’s districts to practice is keeping them at school until the threat has passed.

Shepherd reports recent school closings in Tallahassee in advance of severe weather and tornadoes led to complaints from parents. He looked at the inclement weather policy in Gwinnett, his own school district, and found it slanted toward snow.

So, he asks in his essay: "Do inclement weather plans of school systems need explicit language for early closures due to tornadic storms?"

What do you think?


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.