Another round of wicked winter weather is predicted for the Cambria-Somerset region on Thursday, and that has a number of local schools dismissing students early.
Richland School District is among the earliest dismissals, with high school students being dismissed at 11:35 a.m. and the elementary pupils a half-hour later.
Arnold J. Nadonley, Richland’s superintendent of schools, said there is a lot that went into the decision to dismiss early.
“It is a difficult decision,” he said. “You do look at weather forecasts. I try to look at the National Weather Service and talk among various superintendents.”
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory covering Cambria and Somerset counties for 11 a.m. Thursday through 7 a.m. Friday. It warns of snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches and ice accumulations of less than a tenth of an inch.
Nadonley said that the predictions of freezing rain are the most troublesome.
“That’s the main thing,” he said. “Snow, is one thing (but freezing rain is another).”
Nadonley said that making decisions regarding delays or cancellations is always difficult because, even with today’s technology, weather forecasts are not always accurate.
“You’re not sure if the weather is going to come or not,” he said. “If you’re talking the freezing rain, it becomes a challenge. You err on the side of caution.”
Barbara Parkins, superintendent of schools for United School District, said that a changing weather forecast led to the Indiana County district to let students out early.
“Most of the junior high and high school kids were on the their way when we heard that the band on freezing rain was going to come in,” Parkins said. “It was supposed to be a thin coating of ice plus 2 to 4 inches of snow, which would have provided traction. We got more information of 2 to 4 inches of ice. Because that came through, we decided to make that decision.”
While delays and cancellations are fairly common in the region, early dismissals happen infrequently. It can be difficult for working parents to arrange child care on days when schools dismiss early.
Nadonley understands that.
“It is a concern,” he said. “We always encourage parents to have a plan in place if they’re working. It is difficult.”
It isn’t just school bus drivers that need to traverse on snowy or icy roads, which is something that superintendents must consider.
“The other thing we have to take into account – good, bad or indifferent, we have a lot of student drivers that are young an inexperienced,” he said.
Closing three hours early
Cambria Heights School District
Closing two hours early
Bedford Area School District
Chestnut Ridge School District
Meyersdale Area School District
Salisbury-Elk Lick School District
Shanksville-Stonycreek School District
Somerset Area School District
Westmont Hilltop High School
Conemaugh Valley High School
Northern Cambria middle and high schools
United High School
Richland High School
Forest Hills middle and high schools
Central Cambria middle and high schools
Conemaugh Township middle and high schools
Ferndale Area High School
Johnstown Christian School
Penn Cambria middle and high schools
Portage Area High School
Conemaugh Valley Elementary School
Richland Elementary School
Blacklick Valley High School
Ferndale Area Elementary School
Forest Hills Elementary School
North Star School District
Northern Cambria Elementary School
Portage Area Elementary
Shade-Central City School District
United Elementary School
Central Cambria Elementary School
Conemaugh Township Elementary School
Penn Cambria Elementary School
Berlin Brothersvalley School District
Blacklick Valley Elementary School
Greater Johnstown High School
Rockwood Area School District
Turkeyfoot Valley School District
Windber Area middle and high schools
Windber Area Elementary School
Greater Johnstown Elementary School