Empower parents to prepare for snow days

Published 10:33 pm Friday, January 19, 2018

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

It is the time that we had more discussion about the snow-day preparation (or lack thereof) in the Hampton Roads community. Every family should plan their actions for managing snow days.

When the school doors close due to inclement weather, the rippling effect impacts several lifestyle decisions. Dual, working-parent households do not always have standby arrangements for child care. Children are left to be supervised by their adolescent older siblings. Parents must use sick leave hours they will likely need later. It gets very complicated for some families. Desperate choices are made.

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Parents and families need to create plans for snow days in advance of the first winter storm. On Jan. 16, Jeffery Seneca and Wayne Rau were applauded in the Suffolk News-Herald (editorial, “Hooray for snow-day teachers”) because of the innovative way they prepared their students for standardized testing while they were out of school. It was a great idea that they implemented. But it really should be the norm.

Our teachers should help parents plan for snow-day activities when they have snow-day lesson plans. In addition, the school administration could help parents make more informed decisions about the safety of children in the community if a snow-day assessment is provided to parents during the school year to determine the likelihood that children are safe in these frigid conditions. This would be especially beneficial to transient families in our military community who may be experiencing their first winter in Hampton Roads. Our local weather stations could provide resource guides that help parents prepare and create their family snow-day action plan.

Here are just a few suggestions for developing a family snow-day action plan:

  • Check all pipes and faucets in the home to ensure they are properly insulated.
  • Ensure thermostat is working properly and has fresh batteries if needed.
  • Ensure children have proper snow attire such as boots, hats, gloves and socks.
  • Purchase hand warmers and matches to add to the emergency kit if needed.
  • Check your vehicle tires for cracks or punctures as barometric changes affect tire pressure.
  • Inspect space heaters for wear and tear before use.
  • Contact your designated child care provider and make reservations for your children in the event schools are closed.
  • Review the school website for up-to-date information about school closings.
  • Email your children’s teacher and ask for work to review at home. You would do this if they were out for illness. Why not while they are out for snow days?
  • Ask neighbors if they need anything.
  • Check on your elderly residents in your community. Volunteer services to them.
  • Provide gently used cold weather coats and gear to churches and nonprofit organizations for distribution to families in need.
  • Put salt near doors, on pavement and sidewalks near your home.
  • Check the local library and Pinterest for ideas for family engagement to ward off cabin fever when the snow keeps children home from school.

The moment the doors of the school close and the school bus routes stop running is not the time to figure out what to do. We plan our family fire escape routine. We plan hurricane evacuation routes. We do this to ensure the safety of our household residents. Thank God for service professionals that provide resources to help families prepare in advance should they need these plans.

When snow is in the forecast, our families need the same means of empowerment. Let’s put our heads together and provide resources, tips and encouragement that prevent anyone from being left in the cold.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Follow her on Twitter at @QNikki_Notes.