Why are schools open 1 hour late for bad weather?

Closing schools for an entire day due to a snowstorm makes sense, but I don’t understand the rationale for having a delayed opening. How much can the road conditions improve from 8:00 am to 9:00 am?

Maybe I’m missing the point altogether.

Usually you get the school delays when the storm is over but hasnt been cleaned up yet. The extra one or two hours gives the city/county/state highway crews enough time to clear the snow from the roads. Around here school bus routes and/or mail routes get priorty.

Many public schools obtain state funds for each child in school that day. A school that delays opening by an hour is ensuring itself that students will show up and the school will receive funding for every child that attends.

Keeping the school closed all day means no kids means no funds.

Schools avoid closing for the day if possible because it may require extending the school year. If a school district doesn’t budget snow days in advance, they may have to add on days at the end to make up for it. Or eliminate vacation days.

I’ve worked in school districts where both of those actions were taken, and everyone hated it. My experience is if they can delay the day but still count it, they will.

Also, they are wary of having a bus accident in bad weather. Very bad publicity to crash the kiddies.

I always thought, in addition to Slati’s point, the extra hour was to provide additional time for busses and parents (and driving students) to negotiate roads which were not necessarily dangerously slick but still deserved extra care and slower speeds – not to mention dealing with the inevitable snowy morning traffic jams.

Around here at least, wherer 2-hour delays are far more common these days than are 1-hour ones, it can also be a buying-time maneuver. The buses in some local districts start rolling well before 6, and may not finish their routes till much later in the day. Going on a 2-hour delay if the weather is iffy can give you 2 more hours in which to see if the snow gets heavier, if ice is actually forming on the roads, if the front moves through quickly, etc.

I still find snow days an amazing luxury here in the DC area.

I grew up in Colorado. While it was the desert area, we still got 1-3 snowfalls of 6-12 inches each winter. Y’know how many snow days I had K-12? One!

And none of these “Fall Breaks” and “Spring Breaks”. No wonder school doesn’t get out until almost July around here.

Thanks for the input folks, but I’m still not seeing the logic of it.

As far as allowing the buses to drive slower, that can’t be the case. If schools are one hour late, that just means that everything is shifted forward one hour. Kids who are usually picked up at 8:30 and arrive at 9:00 are now picked up at 9:30 and arrive at 10:00. The bus would have to drive at its usual speed.

Also, these decisions are frequently made the night before, where they are announced on the evening newcasts. Typically a storm will result in one day of closed schools, followed by one or two days of it being an hour late.

In these cases especially, what is the difference between the buses being on the road at 8:00 and 9:00 am?

FWIW, I live in a rural area with lots of back roads, some unpaved, and probably 90% of students get to school by bus.

It gives the sun time to work on the ice that might be on the roads. While a lot of te major roads may be cleared many of the rural roads don’t get cleared.

Around here, they typically only announce a 2 hour delay the night before when they can tell the snow is going to be too much to handle in the morning. The 2 hour delay gives the combination of plows, sunlight, and people driving to clear the roads out. At some point early in the morning the head of the school systems drives to work (and maybe drives around a bit to get there just to see how the roads are). If he feels that the roads aren’t coming along adequately he’ll cancel school.

We always have a 2 hour delay. I’ve never seen a 1 hour delay here. And I can tell you from experience that there is a HUGE difference in the condition of the roads between 7 am and 9 am.

I live in rural PA (near gettysburg). YMMV.

As people pointed out, they don’t want to take a snow day and have to make it up.

An hour can make a great deal of difference in road conditions. If the snow stops at 5:00 a.m., the extra hour gives the plows a chance to clear more road. Also, if the temperature has been around freezing and there’s ice on the roads, an extra hour will also both salting and solar heating.

If the snow has stopped, schools go for a delay. If it’s still falling heavily, they’ll cancel.

Around here, the decisions are not generally made the night before - they may well be made the morning of, after seeing how the roads are, and (hopefully) coordinating with the maintenance crews plowing the roads, to find out when the routes that the busses run on will be plowed. We have to check the morning news or call into the school to find out about a school closing or delay.

[minor digression]
In the Manchester, NH school district, the school board put into their policies long ago that there would either be a 1.5 hour delay, or cancel school for the whole day. The 1.5 hour delay was very unpopular with the parents. (For example: what do working parents of very young children do with their kids for the extra time, but still get them to school?) So the superintendant unofficially never called for the 1.5 hour delay, although it was still in the policy that he could. Recently, there was a new superintendant, who learned all the official policies and procedures, and found this one on the books. For all the reasons listed previously, snow days are to be avoided if possible, so one day when conditions warranted it, he put the 1.5 hour delay in. For the first time in many years - to the point that many parents had not known it was a possibility.

Result: Much, much flack from parents and teachers. He’s also stated that he won’t do it again.