On Canceling School

I love my job.  I love coming to work (most days).  I love being in classrooms (always).  I love talking about school, thinking about school, doing school.  Often to my wife’s chagrin, I am (too) often all-school-all-the time.  Thus, it was with a heavy heart that BVP cancelled school yesterday.  

Sunday morning I posted on the BVP Parents Facebook Page (an informal and unofficial closed group of parents for parents) that an announcement would be made in the early evening, by 8PM at the latest.  Between that post and our announcement at 5:30PM, lots of things happened:

  • Church and Sunday school.
  • Lowes run for batteries, water cooler, extra flashlights.
  • Kids soccer.
  • Grocery store run.
  • Phone battery died.
  • Read some books with Mollie.
  • Watched Dora with Mollie (it’s a really, really, really boring show, but she is obsessed).

Even though I was busy with the above, until the phone died I was also monitoring announcements on the news, Twitter and Facebook: Governor declares State of Emergency; Coventry closes Monday and Tuesday, Providence Schools cancel….  Also monitored were the dozens of parents posting away about whether or not BVP would be open and why we should be open or closed….

The BVP leadership team had a call at 5:15PM, but by then the cancellation was a foregone conclusion.  Three of the four sending towns had cancelled, and during the call the Central Falls cancellation announcement went up on the screen.  We then briefly discussed the wisdom of having staff and teachers come in for the morning to collaborate and plan – then decided against that too.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement.  I can’t quite say that I would go so far as some of the posts on the BVP Parent Facebook page, including: 

  • “My kids love BVP so much. They are both upset that there is no school tomorrow.”
  • “Mine went to bed in tears!”

But I’m bummed – no tears before bed, but….  (Note: Katie, my 2nd grade daughter at BVP is not bummed at all. She was dancing and doing cartwheels at the announcement – though she professes to love school – very curious….) 

The reality is that we have some urgent work to do – not to mention that too many of our scholars depend on BVP for what amount to the two biggest meals of the day – school breakfast and school lunch.  But canceling school is a far, far better outcome than jeopardizing the safety of our scholars and staff.

While this cancellation, at the end of the day, was an easy call, I do worry about the short and long term negative impact of any cancellation.  In the short-term, learning loss is real, routines get undermined, kids may be hungry.  For many, these days at home constitute a day locked inside, some home alone.  

In the long-term, if the storm lasts for days and we have a rough winter, we will be forced to mandate Saturday school, cancel April Break, or both.  To be sure, even though BVP has a ridiculous amount of additional time than a traditional public school in Rhode Island, the Commissioner and Regents have upheld that there is a minimum number of hours in school to constitute a day, but that extra hours cannot be combined to create makeup days.

Through it all, BVP will remain a strong team and family, regardless of what we need to do.  Please reach out if you need assistance during this weather event, we are here for one another.  In the meantime, my new favorite phrase is “batten down the hatches”.  Get ready Sandy, because we are!Resources:

Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency
American Red Cross – Rhode Island
Rhode Island Shelter Information: www.211ri.org/