Superintendent Schwartz speaks on snow days


Ella Erickson

Art by Ella Erickson

Benjamin Jackson, Online Editor-In-Chief

The age of the classic carefree snow days seems to have passed in recent years with the introduction of e-learning days. In the 2018-2019 school year, Dr. Jim Sutfin, our former superintendent, announced the introduction of e-learning days to replace typical snow days, and we have not enjoyed a full snow day since. Now, with the introduction of our new superintendent, Dr. John Schwartz, students, parents and staff are curious as to what the differences will be between his snow policies and Sutfin’s.
“I plan to use e-learning days and late starts and full snow days,” Dr. Schwartz said “probably in a very similar way to how you saw it with Dr. Sutfin.”
With all of that in mind, one thing that was extremely rare under Dr. Sutfin after the introduction of e-learning days was full snow days, but Dr. Schwartz has left some room for the possibility of traditional snow days.
“Generally speaking, I do not intend at this time to change that practice, but rather to assess what does an e-learning day look like and feel like? What’s the value added? What’s the cost benefit otherwise?” Dr. Schwartz commented
“That has not been a strategy that was in our severe weather day calls in my prior district so it’s a great opportunity for me to gain some perspective here.”
The lines between snow day and full day have been blurred even further in recent years with the introduction of an alternate late start schedule. This allows an even greater amount of flexibility for our superintendent when he makes his decisions. This is an option that has not been afforded to Dr. Schwartz in his former superintendency. All of these options allow him to better prepare for unpredictable weather.
“There is not a perfect science. So sometimes, you’re calling it based upon weather that you’re seeing and experiencing at that moment, and it’s an undeniable need to make the decision,” Dr. Schwartz said. “And in other cases, it’s based upon a forecast where it appears as if it’s not going to be safe. And so, you know, I think when it comes to a snow day, you’re trying to assess what is the timing of the weather, what’s the magnitude of the weather that’s going to be experienced, and what impact does that have on safety for students and staff?”
Students have expressed their distaste for e-learning days in the past, and would prefer basic snow days.
“It’s nice, but you don’t get the same level of education that you need. You get so much more from in person than online,” junior Colin Ketterer said.
With their passion for snow days, students can get a little out of hand when it comes to trying to convince their superintendent for one.
“There’s a difference between being unkind and having fun. Obviously, a little bit of jovial back and forth. That’s fun, you know, but generally speaking, I think most people presume positive intent,” Dr. Schwartz said. “Whether it’s me here in Millard or any of the other superintendents across the metro, they’re just trying to make the best decision they can based on the information they have and, everyone’s got their own unique set of circumstances,” he said.
In the past, Dr. Sutfin would always announce proudly on twitter his decision with a trademark “Go Day” or “Snow Day.” Dr. Schwartz may not use the exact same phrases, but he says he still wants to focus on communication.
“It’ll be communicated multiple ways. So if we’re going to have a late start and e-learning day or a snow day, I’ll also tweet it out. But they’ll also be a district email and you get a district email or phone call,” Dr. Schwartz said. “I’ve already recorded some messages, so that when our first snow days or late starts are e-learning days, we’re ready to push those out and communicate with folks and it’ll obviously be on TV and radio.”
To follow decisions from Dr. Schwartz, follow him on Twitter @JschwartzMPS