Mr. Mayo on Snow Days

by Julia Blank

The first thing almost any of us think of when we here the weather channel report a possibility of snow is “Snowday”! As you’re anxiously checking and refreshing Snow Day calculator, one man has the responsibility to determine it all: Superintendent Ralph Mayo. After sitting down with him, I was able to get the inside story on how he decides if we get a day of freedom.

The process for Superintendent Mayo begins far in advance of the rest of us. According to him, “I’m the crazy person around here. I’m looking 10 days ahead.” Always watching for the forecast, he watches the weather as vigilantly as most of us watch the time until our next school break. Keeping an eye out for possible snowdays, once the day comes closer he has established a clear process in place, filling up an entire 3 inch binder in his office. It begins with the weather services our school district subscribes to. Each weather service (we subscribe to two) sends a message up to two days before the day in question. It will reveal a report on what the possibility ice, sleet, snow, and wind.

If it snows the night before, Superintendent Mayo is up at the crack of dawn, generally around 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. The first thing on his to-do list is a call to the Greenwich Police desk. From the Sergeant on call, he gets a report of observations from police around Greenwich. His second call of the day is reserved for the Department of Works to hear if schools are maintained and for more road updates. And if you think you were the only one with group chats exploding with snow day speculation, then you’re mistaken. Superintendent Mayo is apart of a South West Fairfield County email chain and communicates with other regional superintendents on their respective snow day plans. By 5:30 am, Superintendent Mayo makes his decision and his director of communications will contact everyone with the much anticipated (or dreaded) snow day call. These are additional considerations in whether to call a snow day. If he does call a snow day, however, there are consequences. With only five snow days built into our district’s calendar, if we exceed these days they are added to the end of school or taken away from April break.

Yet, if he calls a morning delay or early dismal, these are counted towards our state mandated total school days. The processes for calling these “pardons” are slightly different. For a morning delay, the process is fairly similar to a snow day and depends on if the roads can be cleared and secured in time. Similarly to snow days, by 5:30 in the morning a decision will have been made by the Superintendent.

Superintendent Mayo finds that the alternate process, the early release plan, is different. He explains, “Early release is harder. It’s harder to decide because you don’t know when the snows going to hit… But that’s what happened and then you have to take into account……what the drive home is going to be like.” If he is going to call an early release, he has to make the decision by 10 am in order to make the necessary calls to various services like the food service.

In all of these scenarios, Superintendent Mayo does not take these decisions lightly. He cites his chief concern in all of this as safety, explaining “I worry…there are all sorts of safety issues that go on if we get hit by snowstorm….it’s up to me to make the right call.” On November 16th, 2018, Greenwich was hit by an unexpected snowstorm. Superintendent Mayo recalls that as a primary example of not knowing when the snows going to hit. He describes a key issue of that day being that, “a lot of kids had never driven in the snow before when that storm hit and they had major issues getting home and that all rests on my shoulders.” {add childrens club story} So how do you find out about our school’s snow day decisions first? Well, Superintendent Mayo says, “readers, if you want to know whether there is going to be a snow day the first place is posted on our website, after that then it goes through our email system parent link.” After all of the business of his snow day routine, if he gets the chance, Superintendent Mayo admits that he relishes time he gets to spend with a good book by the fire, joining the rest of us in our own various snow day traditions.

Photo Credit: Rahul Subramanium

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