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How Does East Penn Decide When to Close School?

There's an established process that happens each time East Penn School District considers whether to call for a delayed opening or school closing.

East Penn School District, like many others in the Lehigh Valley, was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week due to winter weather. 

On Tuesday, significant snowfall had been predicted by for the region - a forecast that turned out to be right on target. By Wednesday, the snow had stopped falling, leaving behind strong winds and frigid temperatures. 

Two entirely different days weather-wise, but schools remained closed on both days.

Here's how East Penn Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger arrived at his decision each day, according to East Penn Community Liaison Nicole L. Bloise: 

"When there is a chance of a delay/closure, Dr. Seidenberger gets on the phone at 4:15 a.m.," Bloise explains in an email response to questions from Patch about the process, "and starts consulting with other local superintendents, weather reports, our busing company, etc. All these factors go into his decision whether or not to delay/close school. The #1 priority is the safety of our students."

In response to a question about why school was closed Wednesday, after the snow had stopped falling, Bloise says that Seidenberger told her that he kept the buses parked because "the roads in our district were not safe for transportation."

The district has many rural roads, she says, and Seidenberger told her, "there were plowing and drifting issues" Wednesday morning.
Sheriffchris January 24, 2014 at 09:35 AM
The safety of our children is paramount. I think the Superintendent has done a good job making the call. With the wind and the temperatures in the low single digits, waiting for a school bus, possibly delayed due to road conditions, is outright dangerous.
MS January 25, 2014 at 08:54 AM
Yet I know of parents who have waited for busses or who have watched busses try to climb roads that were just awfull, have watched busses fishtail, turn around or back down a hill. Friday sucked travel wise. The roads were awfull after that overnight snow and there should have been a delay
Michael D Siegel January 25, 2014 at 09:52 AM
Here is my criteria: 1. When we get a winter storm or blizzard watch and/or warning- cancel When we get a winter weather advisory- 2 hour delay or early dismissal 2. If the temps are below 23 degrees all day before at the time the snow begins dismiss schools early or cancel schools because road melting chemicals do not work. 3. If winds are are greater than 30 mph hour gusts and or a wind chill advisory has been issued following the day of a snowstorm--cancel schools. 4. If daytime high temps are forecasted to be below 5 degrees delay schools or cancel 5. Ice storm warnings should necessitate delay or closings depending at the time of the warning is issued 6. As superintendent dictates
Locke January 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM
Here is my criteria: if the day of the week is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and there is less than 1 ft of snow on the roads, and it's above -10F, bundle up and go to school. We're raising a generation of babied pansies.
MS January 25, 2014 at 10:52 AM
I prefer my babied pansy alive over injured or dead from a school bus accident on icy roads. I'm pretty sure the school district prefers less lawsuits as well, which is why they have cancelled so much. Back in the day most of us walked to school, now were having to stick our kids on big yellow school Buses without seatbelt sand pray they get there safely. I'm guessing my daughters school bus driver didn't want to deal with the slick roads on Friday so she called off and left the kids with two different bus drivers who had no idea where the hell they were going, and on slick roads. I watched her bus drive by my house twice after school because she forgot to stop! Frantic bus drivers on icy roads lead to accidents. I'm not willing to give up my children just yet thankyouverymuch
Michael D Siegel January 25, 2014 at 11:04 AM
Sorry Locke but I agree with the Superintendent on this one- we have rural hilly roads. We are not flat like in the midwest, I would like to see you drive up Mountain Rd, Reservoir Hill Rd, Kings Highway etc when there is even three inches of hard packed snow that has turned to ice or just plain ice. Its the bus driver company and EPSD that is liable and I want our children safe.
Mark Spengler January 25, 2014 at 01:10 PM
Agreed Michael Siegel. And to add, out superintendent has been making the rt. calls from the start across the board. I'm so sorry he will be leaving us in July.
Heather Hinshaw Blews January 25, 2014 at 01:42 PM
Parkland and Salisbury Township have all made the same decisions on snow days. So Locke I guess the this entire section of Lehigh Valley is somehow wrong? In my view and I am from New England, they have made all the right calls this winter. Maybe you should consider boarding school as they never close for inclement weather.
Pam Albrecht January 26, 2014 at 08:54 AM
As a working parent, I would have loved nothing more than to see my children have full school days, but Thursday and Friday morning the roads were deplorable! Thursday I drove my kids to LMMS and there were cars sliding all over Lower Mac and Brookside roads. On Friday, I have heard of at least 3 buses that had substitute drivers who had no idea where their stops were, therefore leaving groups of children outside waiting for long periods of time and also had to wait at school at the end of the day, waiting for buses. There should have been a delay on both Thursday and Friday!!! BAD CALL!!!
Don January 26, 2014 at 10:54 AM
I am sorry so many of you are upset with the schools being closed , due to deplorable conditions. I strongly suggest if the parents who have all the answers for the school bus drivers , get your CDL and go through weeks of training and testing. Then put up with the name calling from mocho man parents and some very abusive language from other parents , as we try our very best to get your children to school safely in very UNSAFE conditions. Until you have driven in our seats STOP complaining to us and using unkind words to us, We love our jobs and the kids. We are doing what we are told even it means VERY VERY bad conditions. Work with us instead of against us. Many parents are very good and supportive of what we do. We THANK YOU.
Pam Albrecht January 26, 2014 at 11:01 AM
Don, I am in complete agreement with you..It was unfair that you and your employees were put it that situation..We love our bus drivers and are concerned for their safety just as well....
Linda Smith January 27, 2014 at 10:30 AM
I agree with you Pam. My kids are grown, but the bus drivers and crossing guards love the kids and their first concern is for their safety. The superintendent is looking out for the safety of all involved when he makes these decisions. Parents, etc. please stop name calling and complaining and think of others first. These people love your kids and their employees. They just want what is best for all concerned.

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