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School districts make early decision to close for snow days

West Seneca Central School District Superintendent Matthew Bystrak describes how he evaluates whether or not to call a snow day, and when.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Even though the first major lake effect storm of the season didn't cause accumulation and low visibility on the roads until Thursday morning, many school districts had already made the decision to shut down by Wednesday afternoon. 

This year, superintendents not only had to decide between canceling school altogether and holding remote classes. They also had to decide when to call it.

In West Seneca, the central school district announced just before 5 p.m. that school would be cancelled due to the predicted snow storm.

Superintendent Matthew Bystrak spoke with 2 On Your Side on Wednesday morning, before the decision was made. He described what the process is like for him.

"Obviously you monitor throughout the day. You look at multiple sources. I think I have like seven different weather apps on my phone," he said. "You try to see some corroboration. Basically, the TV forecast is saying this, I've got three apps that say this, kids suggesting to me that we should be off, also. But the big picture really, just kind of looking to see, you're always looking at when it's going to hit. When it's expected to hit. The windspeed definitely plays a factor, at least in my mind. The snow totals, and just our ability to clear snow from our sidewalks and parking lots."

Many superintendents say they prefer to make the announcement the night before, if possible, to give parents the most planning time. 

"It's nice to be able to do it the day before, to be able to give parents time to plan. Worst case scenario, it's the morning of," Bystrak said. "You try to communicate that by like 5:30 in the morning. You want to make that decision by 5:30 in the morning at the latest, but ideally, you try to do it the day before, if you have that ability."