Hundreds of public schools in central Oklahoma are closed Tuesday for a third day, despite the metro area receiving only about three inches of snow last week.
Oklahoma City, Deer Creek, Edmond and Norman Public Schools are among the districts that haven't had classes since Thursday.
While that's exciting news for students, it's not so much for their parents who have to answer a major question: Where do kids go when parents have to work?
It's a problem Tierney Tinnin, media services director of Oklahoma City Public Schools, has heard repeatedly since Friday.
“We really monitored the roads and the weather all day yesterday,” Tinnin said. “The main concern — the neighborhood streets. I think if people have been out and about today, they will see the snow routes, the major roads, are pretty dry. And then when you drive down the neighborhood streets, you'll see that thick layer of ice is still there.
“We had parents who would have preferred to have their students in school today, but we want them to understand that we cover more than 120 square miles. If the street in front of your home looks really, really nice — let's talk about the streets in Spencer, the Village and Nichols Hills that may not look the same way.”
Tinnin said Dave Lopez, the Oklahoma City Public Schools interim superintendent, has the authority to declare a snow day after receiving recommendations from the maintenance and transportation heads for the district.
Billy Goldsmith is the director of facilities for Oklahoma City Public Schools. His crew of 140 maintenance employees spent the weekend checking all 89 schools in the district and found just one broken pipe in the process.
With school canceled again Tuesday, Goldsmith said his crew will continue working to de-ice parking lots and entrances until students return to campus.
“If anybody slips and falls, we all feel responsible for that,” Goldsmith said. “So we're trying to make sure that doesn't happen.”
As of 2 p.m. Monday, Acorn Children's Center, a 24-hour day care in northwest Oklahoma City, was 15 children away from reaching its capacity.
Director Richi Anthony estimated that 70 children at the center would have been at school had it not been canceled.
“We have to get creative,” Anthony said. “We plan extra activities and have extra staff come in.”
Anthony said she expected the rush that accompanies a snow day and understands the frustration of parents.
Many of her clients are only allotted a certain amount of care hours for their children per week. She said some had found baby sitters Monday to make up the difference.
“A lot of these parents work two jobs,” Anthony said. “They're not going to be able to drop their kid off here all day long.”
Heather Rogers is a staff member at Acorn who also has two children in the program, Natalie, 7, and Brandon, 6. She said she's thankful her kids were covered Monday but knows that many other parents weren't so lucky.
“A lot of places don't take drop-ins,” Rogers said. “So the hardest part is just finding a place for them to go or family that can be home to watch them.”
Rogers said she had mixed emotions about traveling to work, but her children who attend Midwest City Public Schools, were told to stay home.
“I want them to be safe, but look at all the kids here,” Rogers said, motioning toward a packed play room.
Anthony said no matter what lies ahead for area students this week, one thing will remainconstant.
“If we can get our doors open and have power,” Anthony said. “We are in business.”
Snow Day Camp
Layla Johnson, 11, who attends KIPP Reach College Preparatory, had never been to Science Museum Oklahoma before Monday.
She's glad her mom responded to an email Sunday that sent her to Snow Day Camp at the indoor facility.
“It really cool, I loved it,” Johnson said. “I really want to come tomorrow.”
Johnson was one of six students who attended the last-minute program put on by the museum.
Melody Muniz, director of museum's primary guest interaction, said she hopes more students and parents will become aware of the event with classes canceled Tuesday.
“It's a great destination because they can come indoors, and they don't have to worry about being outside,” Muniz said. “And they have an activity to do, whether they're with a family or get dropped off to do the camp.”
The program is for first-to-sixth grade students, costs $50 for museum members, $60 for nonmembers, and is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Children should bring their own lunch.
Students have the opportunity to complete hands-on activities, such as building bird houses into holiday shapes and learning about migration patterns of Oklahoma birds.
“We figured we would have a camp where parents could actually drop them off if they needed to get to work,” Muniz said.