GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – When Grand Rapids School District Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby announced the district’s first snow day, she hardly could have known dozens of other school districts would follow suit.

On Nov. 18 all public schools in Kent County, 20 school districts, and Kalamazoo Public Schools also closed their doors to students citing weather conditions.

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Allegan, Barry, Calhoun, Eaton, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Ottawa, and Van Buren counties are all under a winter storm warning until 7 am Saturday and the rest of West Michigan is under a winter weather advisory after the first snowstorm of the season descended upon West Michigan.

According to the National Weather Service there are three types of weather conditions: Watches, Advisories, and Warnings.  Storm Warnings occur “when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.”  Weather advisories are less significant than a warning and are issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings, that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property,” as defined by the National Weather Service.

Districts in Michigan are allotted six days off per year due to circumstances beyond the control of school authorities including severe storms, fires, health conditions, and infrastructure issues according to the Michigan Department of Education’s 2022 – 2023 Pupil Accounting Manual.  Should schools surpass that number, they may seek additional days by seeking permission from the State Superintendent, currently Dr. Michael Rice.

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Now several districts have used their first day, and will have to be diligent not to surpass their six days, which was a concern for the 2021 school year.

“These decisions are never easy. We know every school day is important for our scholars and we look forward to seeing them in the classroom, but safety always comes first,” Dr. Roby said. “We are hopeful the weather cooperates for a return to class Monday morning. In the meantime, we’re encouraging our scholars to stay safe and enjoy the snow day!”