Southwest Local Schools try new cold-weather plan to keep kids in warmth, avoid canceling class

HARRISON, Ohio -- Southwest Local Schools leaders are tackling the cold in a different way this week to make sure their students stay warm but avoid canceling class.

Schools opened district-wide at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday for all students.

District leaders said they hope this will allow parents to drop off students who usually have to walk to school or wait for a school bus.

The buildings will stay open and be supervised until 5 p.m. so parents can pick up their children late and keep them out of the cold.

Superintendent Chris Brown said school officials hope the plan will help families as the district tries to get back on a normal schedule.

The superintendent said the fact that the district has a lot of working parents went into the decision to test the plan.

“With our extended break this year, we didn't come back until Jan. 6 and we also had two snow days the first two days back,” Brown said.
"They don't have any more days, they don't have the luxury of working at home, they don't have the luxury of taking extended amount of time to be home with the kids. This plan was developed to give those parents an alternative to drop their kids off while they could still go to work, go to work, come home and still pick their kids up. Therefore, they don't have to work and they don't have to stay out at the bus stops."

However, not all the Southwest schools parents are happy about the idea.

WCPO’s Kendall Herold talked with one mother who said it’s too cold for students to be out, so she’s keeping her children home Tuesday.

That parent said her daughter got frostbite Monday and she doesn’t want anything worse to happen.

The students didn’t sound too stoked about the plan either.

“It's too cold. I think they should call a snow day,” student Leah Norman said.

One parent WCPO spoke with said she would have told her kids to stay inside if they were at home Tuesday.

“I think it's semi-beneficial but I feel that it's still too cold,” parent Kristin Norman said. My son goes to the high school and school gets out at 3:00, he doesn't want to sit there until 5:00 when I can pick him up because I have to drive later in order to drop everybody off."

Brown said the option of calamity days didn’t come into the decision. The superintendent said if the district hadn’t had the option of opening the buildings early school would have been canceled.

“But given that chance that parents could drop their kids off at Harrison Elementary two and a half hours early, we thought that was a plan where we could accommodate more parents,” Brown said. “We're not going to accommodate everybody, we realize that there are some parents who are going to elect not to send their kids today and that's their choice as it always is."

Brown said that as of 12:10 p.m., about 85 percent of the study body arrived for class. The district is still deciding whether to implement the plan again for Wednesday.

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