Districts Forced Into Early Dismissals After Opening Schools For Morning

The impending arrival of a late-winter snowstorm meant an early dismissal for some Chautauqua County school districts, and no school at all for others.

In preparation for a storm that was projected to leave up to 8 inches of snow accumulation in its wake by the end of the day, superintendents of Frewsburg, Falconer and Southwestern schools opted for the early dismissal of their students.

red the timeframe of its students’ dismissal from school – busing home students from grades 7-12 at 11:15 a.m., and pre-K through grade 6 students at 12:30 p.m. According to Danielle O’Connor, superintendent, the decision to dismiss early ultimately came after classes had already commenced Wednesday morning.

“It was only raining (Wednesday) morning, and the roads were just wet, so we were unsure at the time whether the bad weather would come to Frewsburg,” O’Connor said. “We were closely monitoring the weather stations and, by their indications, they were telling us we would start seeing some of that bad weather by 1 p.m. So, once we determined that it really would not miss us, we made the decision to close school early.”

O’Connor said the decision to stagger the dismissal times of students was influenced by several factors.

“The first reason is that we don’t have enough buses to transport everybody at the same time,” she said. “Secondly, we wanted to have the high school kids get home first so they could be prepared to watch over their younger siblings, and give parents as much time as possible to make arrangements for their younger children.”

O’Connor said the high school students were dismissed prior to having lunch, but the elementary students did receive lunch before leaving the school.

She said Frewsburg will not lose out on one of its allotted snow days due to the fact that it did host school in the morning.

“Since we did host school, it counts as a full day of attendance; and we will receive state aid for the day,” O’Connor said. “In addition, we do have one more snow day that we can use this year, and we’re still not in a position to have to add instructional days at this point.”

O’Connor said Frewsburg had consulted with Falconer and Southwestern schools throughout the day, leading all three districts to concur that the weather warranted an early dismissal of students.

Falconer’s high school and Fenner Elementary School students were dismissed at 11:45 a.m., and Temple Elementary students were dismissed at 12:45 p.m. Southwestern dismissed its high school students at 12:30 p.m., and its elementary students at 1:30 p.m.

Some county schools opted to cancel their Wednesday school day altogether rather than face the weather. These cancellations included Westfield, Dunkirk, Silver Creek, Brocton, Pine Valley, Cassadaga, Bemus Point, Northern Chautauqua Catholic School and Bethel Baptist Christian Academy.

Other districts canceled all their after-school activities, including Clymer, Jamestown, Panama and Sherman.

SUNY Fredonia canceled all its afternoon classes and activities as of noon, while Jamestown Community College closed its North County Center in Dunkirk as of 11 a.m. Wednesday.