How do schools decide when to close for snow or cold?

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MENTOR, Ohio – With snow and frigid temperatures in the forecast, some Northeast Ohio school districts are bracing for their second snow day in as many weeks.

Mentor High School teachers were squeezing in as much material as possible, aware of the forecast.

“I am a little excited especially because teachers seem to be preparing a little bit,” said Mentor High School Junior Joy Mason.

Superintendent Matthew Miller said he is preparing for an early morning monitoring weather conditions.

“Based on weather predictions, I think I'll be up early in the morning tomorrow,” Miller said. “We really can't go based on the prediction, we have to see it.”

He said he and other district officials drive the streets, check road reports and speak with other superintendents before making the call to close.

“It's a combination of factors when we make that decision,” he said. “Usually, it's not just one factor.”

Cold temperatures could be a big factor, especially in districts where students walk to school. Miller said wind chills below zero become cause for concern and cancellation.

Ohio school districts now have more flexibility to cancel without making up days. Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the state changed from requiring a minimum number of school days to a minimum number of hours.

Many districts, including Mentor, far surpass that requirement. 910 hours of instruction are required for elementary students and 1,001 hours for students in grades seven through 12. Mentor has 1,080 hours of instruction for elementary students and 1,260 hours of instruction for older students.

“I think all of us want our kids to get to school safe, so we're going to err on the side of caution,” Miller said.

“Sometimes, we're right. Sometimes, we're wrong. Hopefully we get it more right.”

Even when school is cancelled, many districts now have students complete assignments online from home.

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