Remember when you were a kid and woke up to a fresh snowfall and the surprise of a snow day? It was a wonderful gift, inviting you to burrow in and sleep just a little longer.

With today’s technology, we have even better weather predictions and greater access to alerts. Our faithful and diligent meteorologists provide us advisories, watches and warnings, sometimes weeks ahead of potential poor weather. That sometimes turns “surprise” into “speculation” and even premature expectations for snow days.

Our leadership team at Grand Haven Area Public Schools, like all our neighboring school districts, watches predictions carefully – but real weather can defy predictions. That’s why we don’t just rely on the forecast; we actually get up early and go check the roads.

With our district encompassing nearly 100 square miles, we cannot check every road, but we scout key areas and spread out as much as we can. It never ceases to amaze me how vastly different conditions can be on any given day in the different corners of northwest Ottawa County.

Our goal is to make a determination during the 5 a.m. hour so families and staff have ample time to adjust, but as weather is often emerging or changing, this isn’t always possible. Please know that we will always err on the side of caution, but also take the importance of every day in the school calendar very seriously. We know many students and families rely on our programs for breakfast and lunch, and that school closures can create child care and work challenges.

Our decision to close is always made with safety in mind and within the standards of “typical” winter weather and driving conditions. We ask that everyone make contingency plans, slow down and allow extra travel time.

If at any time you are concerned about your child’s safety at the bus stop or in transit to school, please make the best decision for your child and family. We will excuse any weather-related absences.

The coming Michigan winter will certainly bring inclement weather and poor road conditions. While we try to make the best decisions we can with the information we have available, weather is often unpredictable and changes rapidly. In all decisions, including weather-related calls, keeping our students, staff and families safe is always our utmost concern.

About the writer: Andy Ingall is the superintendent of Grand Haven Area Public Schools.

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