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Filler: To call a snow day or not? The school administrator's dilemma

Traffic on Old Country Road in Westbury as

Traffic on Old Country Road in Westbury as snow began falling heavily across Long Island. (Dec. 10, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Long Island’s education leaders know they’re damned if they do call off school before the kids show up, and they’re damned if you don’t.

If they sound the “No School, Let the Celebrations of Children and Wailing of Parents Begin” alarm and call it off, they risk the possibility that by the time the kids actually creep from the bed and peer outside the clouds will have passed by without dropping any snow, or the snow that has fallen will have melted on the warm ground, leaving parents who had to skip work fuming and muttering.

“I can’t believe they called off school for this. When I was a kid they only canceled school for snow if the drifts got so deep they literally couldn’t find the school and the buses. If they could find the school buildings but not the buses, you were expected to walk to class, and if you were tardy they closed the snow tunnels and you had to burrow in yourself.”

Of course, when they don’t cancel classes and the flakes start flying parents, sliding along the roads as they carp into their cell phones, have a whole other issue to complain about:

“The roads are terrible, people are driving like mani…..hold on, OUTTA MY WAY, PRIUS BOY, OR THIS ESCALADE WILL ROLL OVER YOU LIKE SURF OVER A SAND CASTLE… okay, honey, I’m back. I cannot believe they didn’t call off school, it’s like they don’t care anything about the safety of our …. I’M WARNING YOU FOR THE LAST TIME, MISTER.”

But many Long Island schools supplied the dreaded triple whammy Tuesday when they did not call off school, because snow was not falling when classes began, then launched a torrent of automated calls a couple of hours later telling parents to pick up the kids for an early release as the white stuff piled up, then saw, on much of the Island, the downfall tapered at almost the exact moment parents, many forced to leave work, began to get their kids home and unloaded.

We aren’t very good at predicting weather, that’s all. No matter how many sciencey gadgets and “Super Doppler” formats they come up with, our sense of what is going to come out of the sky at any given moment, let alone in any given day, week or month, is pretty weak.

Really, when we know people are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, and “do” and “don’t” are their only two options, it’s kind of silly and selfish to damn them at all.