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How schools decide when to close

OTSEGO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) With hundreds of West Michigan schools cancelling classes on Friday, a question we often get from viewers is, Why does one district close while another nearby stays open?
 
Superintendents tell us there are many factors that go into that decision and it all starts the night before.  The school will constantly check the forecast and, if it looks bad enough, they'll make the call that night.
 
Otsego Public Schools says if they do wait until the following morning, they send three drivers out onto the roads to check out the conditions in each part of the district.  That happens around 4:45am.
    
Those specified drivers then phone in to the school to report the safety level of the roadways.
    
From there, the superintendent decides if the snow, ice, fog or cold temperatures warrant a snow day.
 
It s not only buses but so many students drive that you re worried about them on the roads as well, says Otsego Superintendent Denny Patzer. The priority is on safety. It s not on how many snow days do you get? and how many have you used up?  That is not the main consideration or criteria in any of this.
 
Interestingly, the district tells NewsChannel 3 a decade ago they'd make the call by 6am when the buses went out.  But with the increased use of social media by both parents and students, nowadays they try to decide as early as possible, often closer to 5am.
 
Many local districts, including Otsego Public Schools have their school closure policy posted right on their website.