Feb. 3 marks the post-Super Bowl snowstorm that left football fans from Washington to Colorado stuck on tri-state territory. Flights were cancelled, plow trucks were called, de-icing salt expensed and most institutions rendered closed – especially those of educational setting. But in Lyndhurst another course was taken, and without realizing the severity of the storm coming their way, the Lyndhurst Board of Education (BOE) decided to keep their schools open. And it is for this decision, that the board has extended its deepest apologies to the Lyndhurst community at its board meeting on Feb. 10.
The board’s President, Christopher Musto, interrupted the committee’s order of business to make a public apology to Lyndhurst for “the incredibly bad decision of not closing schools on Feb. 3.
“The weather was treacherous and dangerous for our children, parents, and our staff. Additionally, the decision to operate placed an unnecessary burden on the police department, DPW and the school facilities,” Musto said.
With the Monday in question bringing in temperatures of low 30s to high 40s, with 3 to 6 inches of heavy snowfall, parents wondered why a school day was even attempted. Some used the BOE meeting as a platform to express their concern and wanting to know if their children would be penalized for not attending school on Feb. 3. And they asked whether or not the three snow days already used up in the school year would subject their children to another day of braving the elements.
Attempting to answer the parent’s inquiries, Lyndhurst Superintendant, Tracey Marinelli, responded that absences are acknowledged by state code that if school is in session, attendance has to be recorded, and so the BOE cannot overlook it.
Marinelli said in an interview on Feb. 12 that in the case of another necessary snow day taking place and the snow day limit of five being used it would be the decision of the union and board to start taking days from spring break.
“In the case that we have to take everything from April, we would then have to look into either extending days in June or whichever days the board and the union agree upon,” said Marinelli.
Parents would be notified of these schedule changes through the Lyndhurst Board of Ed. website – lyndhurstsschools.net, media outlets such as News12, Fox5, etc., and lastly the schools themselves.
“I want to take a second to thank and publicly recognize all the custodians and principals who helped with shoveling that day. And to ensure this situation never happens again, I merely conducted a review in the process to determine how a snow emergency closing day was generated; so we immediately met together and adopted a new plan,” Musto said.
The new protocol in the case of inclement weather conditions, is that the school business administrator, the superintendant of schools, the commissioner and superintendant of DPW, the chief of police, and the supervisor of maintenance and grounds for the school district would collaborate to make the decision of closing schools.
“No later than eight o’clock the night before the pending storm a conference call will be conducted where we can all speak together about the township and school district’s questions and concerns regarding whether our schools should be open, closed, delayed or maybe let out early,” said Marinelli.
Lyndhurst schools were closed three times since Feb. 3 due to snow.