Walpole Should Be More Cautious with Delays


The school experienced a memorable superfluous amount of snow days two years ago.

The school experienced a memorable and superfluous amount of snow days two years ago.
The school experienced a memorable and superfluous amount of snow days two years ago.

Snow days can sometimes be a tough call, especially for Superintendent Lincoln Lynch, who will be chastised for ultimately whatever call he makes. Certain people are flustered when school is called off when it turns out it should not have been, and students and parents get upset when school is not canceled and accidents occur, such as what happened on Wednesday, January 16. Its a difficult call to make–especially when you’re no meteorologist.

Typically, superintendents make a call the night before or at least by 5AM in the morning.  They usually base their decision on weather forecasts for their town and for the surrounding areas.  Last Wednesday, because the bulk of the snowfall came during relatively later in the morning around 6:30 AM, it was too late to make any judgement, and the mess had ensued before anyone had a chance to cry “Cancel!” However, despite the early morning pandemonium, by 10:30 it appeared the roads had cleared up and would have been safer to drive on then, although fast tow truck service still had a lot of work.

That being said, it is better to err on the safe side and many people are confused as to why Wednesday was not one of those “safe-side” days. In fact, it should have been an easy call because of the dangerous combination of ice covered by a good 6 inches of unplowed snow.

Many did not get lucky either – there were several accidents and almost everyone driving a vehicle had at least a minor shake-up that morning. But as well know, school was not canceled or even delayed, which means Walpole must take stricter precautions in the future.

We awoke to find that roads were barely plowed, back streets had to be forcefully driven through, parking lots were concealed, and sidewalks were inaccessible. Sounds like good conditions for transportation, right? Without the sidewalks plowed, students should have been able to attain at least an excused absence. Walking in the snow-covered streets where cars are avoiding crashing into each other, let alone crashing into actual people, is extremely unsafe and the school risks getting pinned with the blame for a possibly fatal accident occurring for leaving no leeway for the students to be permissibly late or absent.

As for the actual roads, driving was turmoil. Not many plows were called to clean up because they had expected that the snow would turn to rain. Upon realizing that mistake, the plows should have scrambled to clear up, at the very least, main roads before the morning rush, such as Washington Street where many of the twisting, turning, and accidents occurred.

One of the worst accidents that morning can be told by senior Lauren Scanlon whose car went swerving off the road in an effort to avoid another swerving car, while she continued to hit a tree, snap the axel of her car, pop a wheel off, and roll back into the street, all before school (which she did end up attending even after all that).

She said, “The car ahead of me was spinning out of control and I tried to avoid hitting them and drove up on the curb and severely damaged my car. I was panicking and I didn’t know what to do. Everyone driving by saw me and the police had to come and my car got towed.  It was really embarrassing.”

Others experienced their own close-calls such as swerving off the roads or doing 360 turns into the other side of the street. It became very clear through all the anxiety that morning that a mistake of bad judgement had been made.

For the future, Walpole should be more cautious in calling delays, and most likely after Wednesday’s chaos, they will be. Because the superintendent is under a lot of pressure to make the right judgement when it sometimes cannot be determined by a certain time, those in authority should also consider allowing a later time to report delays or cancels back to the public. If the superintendent were allowed to make the call by, for instance 6:30 AM, Walpole would most likely have avoided the mayhem and had a delay. The town of Walpole should only be grateful there were no fatal results because of the mistake and should learn from it for next time.