Snow Days: Who makes the call?


Winter at Malvern

Mike Higgins

The Chronicle chatted with Mr. Valyo about his role in the snow day process and what helps him make the big decisions.

The looming threat of snow always brings big discussions to Malvern’s campus. You frequently hear questions like “How much snow are we going to get?” or “What do these weather people know anyway?” or even sometimes “Can we ice down the bus depot?”

Teachers and students make their own forecasts at 9th periods, sometimes with a nice pretzel wager going to the victor. Twitter blows up if luckily the verdict comes down before the night, although most of the time the ruling is made really early in the morning.

Before heading back to bed after seeing the words School Closed on the Malvern website, you may ask yourself, “How do we actually get a snow day?”

Although some people believe snow days are enacted by a wave of approval from Mr. Talbot’s lightsaber, the real Emperor in the hunt for a snow day is Mr. Valyo.

When winter weather is forecasted, Mr. Valyo wakes up around 4:45 A.M. and immediately goes online to check the forecast and school closings on Channel 6 ABC. He then tunes his radio to KYW to see what schools have already made decisions on whether or not to open that day. The major school districts he reviews are Great Valley, West Chester, Downingtown, and Tredyffrin/Easttown. If the majority of these school districts are closed, there is a great chance we also will have a snow day.

The main reason for Malvern’s attentiveness to these districts is for bussing reasons. Due to a large amount of Malvern students coming from these areas, a lack of bussing would prevent many of our students from getting to school on a specific day. Especially with a number of these students’ parents working, they would have no way of arriving at school if the major districts were closed.

Although transportation is probably the largest concern when considering a school closing, the ability for Malvern’s maintenance staff to get the campus ready is definitely the second largest dilemma. Once Mr. Valyo has finished checking the area schools, he calls Mr. Bruce Smith, the head of maintenance, to see if the staff could have Malvern plowed and ready to be open on time.

If all the signals point to a day off or a 2-hour delay the next part of the plan goes into effect. Mr. Valyo calls Mr. LeStrange who sends out the mass text messages with the alert. Then the news is posted on the website, and Mr. Valyo calls the TV and radio stations to inform them of the decision.

When he was president, Mr. Stewart held this position for decades. Last year Fr. Flynn was the one making the call, but now the responsibility is up to Mr. Valyo as Assistant Head of School.

The next time you are considering that crucial decision, “Should I really do all my homework and study for that big Econ test tomorrow?” be extra courteous to Mr. Valyo around campus.  We might just get a snow day out of it.