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Posted on Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Snow day in Ann Arbor? Get ready to find out 30 minutes earlier this winter

By Danielle Arndt


Pedestrians cross Huron Street during a heavy snow storm in this file photo. The Ann Arbor Public Schools set a new call time this year for winter weather-related school closings, notifying families earlier than ever.

File photo | The Ann Arbor News

Families in the Ann Arbor Public Schools will be waking up earlier on snow days this winter.

If school must be cancelled due to road conditions, families should expect a phone call from the district by no later than 5:30 a.m., according to an email announcement distributed Monday by district spokeswoman Liz Margolis.

This is 30 minutes earlier than the previous call time of 6 a.m.

So far this season, snow has yet to accumulate in the city of Ann Arbor. And with weather like Tuesday’s rain and high of 57 degrees, it is hard to imagine school being closed for a snow day anytime soon.

Margolis said the email was not prompted by Monday’s dense fog, but merely was a coincidence. She did not receive any phone calls from parents wondering why school was not closed or delayed due to the fog, she said.

“We had already had a meeting to discuss the earlier call out. I just thought, even though it was almost 60 degrees, that we’d better alert parents of the new call-out time now,” she said.

When AAPS called families at 6 a.m. last year, it was difficult for high school students to receive proper notice, officials said. Many high schoolers catch the bus at 6:15 a.m., so it wasn’t unusual for students to be waiting at the bus stop when the call was made.

“We know this is early, especially for elementary-only families, but we also know many families need to make plans for a day off of school,” Margolis said in her email letter to parents.

In Michigan, school districts are allowed up to six snow days, or 30 hours off, without having to make them up, as long as they have a minimum of 1,098 instruction hours scheduled.

Margolis said in her nearly 10 years at AAPS, the district has never used its 30 hours.

Last year, the district did not have a single winter school closure, due to the warm temperatures and lack of snowfall.

Read Margolis’ email to the district below:

Dear AAPS Families,

I know it doesn’t feel like winter but AAPS is prepared for any weather related school closing that may occur!

This email is to explain AAPS weather closing procedures and to let you know when you may get a school closing call and your options.

It is important that families are notified of school closings as soon as possible so plans can be made for students on an unexpected no-school day. If the weather cooperates we always attempt to make the call the night before. But more likely the school closing decision won’t be made until the middle of the night.

How is a school closing decision made?

When bad weather is anticipated, AAPS works with the local WISD Transportation Department and the local police to continually make road checks. Transportation supervisors and AAPS facilities crew are out driving the roads and assessing road conditions. The AAPS district covers 125 square miles, many of these in rural areas. Considerations include road conditions, amount of snow, will sidewalks be cleared and safe for walking and is the temperature safe enough for students to walk to school or bus stops? AAPS facilities crew makes a recommendation based on all these factors to the Superintendent. This includes a discussion with neighboring districts. A decision is made no later then 4:00 a.m.

How are AAPS families informed?

Because many of our high school students catch their bus at 6:15 a.m., we will be notifying all families no later then 5:30 a.m. This will include a phone call and email to all AAPS students and staff. We know this is early, especially for elementary-only families, but we also know many families need to make plans for a day off of school. We also notify local and Detroit radio stations and television stations. You can always find the closing list on Channels 2 (Fox), 4 (NBC), 7 (ABC) and 14 (CBS), as well as all major radio stations in the Ann Arbor and Detroit area. We also post a notice on the district website ( and on the AAPS phone hotline (994-8684).

Thank you for understanding why this call needs to be made so early. Perhaps, like last year, we won’t need to make this call if we have a mild winter!

Thank you,
Liz Margolis

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

Coming from the horses mouth the call off time is 5 AM. No waiting. So what ever you hear don't listen. This is the word of Transportation.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Glad they are getting smarter about that. I used to catch the bus at 6:25 and so many times was waiting out in the cold a half mile from home when my mom come by because they had just cancelled school. Sometimes it was as late as 7am. First world problems.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 6:38 a.m.

Oh how I used to love snow days! This was 13 years ago I think we had a HUGE storm and the school was closed for FOUR days straight. We were all snowed in, but on Friday the city dug itself out so I was able to catch the bus downtown with my friends and hang out all day. It was awesome.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

With most teens as Experts on the Internet, can AAPS establish a WebSite, broken-down by grades? It could be the beginning of "Snow Day" lessons. A teacher for each grade could communicate with students over the Internet from his/her home. Completed assignments could be emailed by student to his/her teacher. Come on dudes! Let's think 21st Century! Why should young people and their bus drivers have to fight the blizzard and be put at risk for a bus crash? Just saying . . . hope someone that can do something about this idea will read this post . . .


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

Don't worry, not much snow this year. In a few years we will be running around in shorts in December and January.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:36 a.m.

This will be unpopular it really that hard for people to figure it out themselves that there is no school? First clue, it snowed. Then, go check tv, computer, iPad, smart phone, heck AM radio if that's what you gotta do. Does the school have to do everything for people? Proceed to vote down, lol.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Plus, the School Closing Hotline (994-8684) is usually updated right away. I had it on speed-dial, so I could check as soon as my alarm went off.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

Here is my dilemma. I am up and at em by 5:30. So pretty much I am wide awake, dressed and showered and I get a call? Interesting. Because straight from the horses mouth I was told 4:30. So, I wonder who will get the call in first. My money is on AAPS not closing at all this winter. They always wait to the last minute. Been like that for like forever. Can't wait to see this first snow day in action. Going to be fun fun fun.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

I'm just glad they call so I don't have to wonder, or wait to see the list on TV scroll the other 20,000 schools that are canceled first. Yeah, 5:30 is crazy early, but I can always go back to sleep. No harm, no foul.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:01 a.m.

Go on line to channel 4 and get their notifications. You can sign up for it. Can tell what time AAPS decided to close. Which is usually after everyone else has decided it is not worth it.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

Makes cents. Kids have to leave earlier to walk further to catch a school bus. Ching. The contract companies want snow day pay if they are not told early enough to stay home. Ching. Traffic congestion has increased causing earlier drive times for everyone. Clunk. Takes longer to see if the roads have been cleared by the new city plows. Ching.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:29 p.m.

Um, could you some of you be missing the point? For most of the years my kids were in the school system we found out school was canceled by sitting in front of Channel 4 news reading the closed school list. In the final year we were on the phone call list. How wonderful it was to hear the phone ring with the news even if the kids were already up and about.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

Guess what? You can sign up for notifications now. Or at least can for a few years.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 11:16 p.m.

I thought that this notification system they use is student specific, if so, surely they can call those who aren't in HS at a different time than those in HS ... It is already too early of a call. Our kids have to be in school by the 8:07 a.m. bell, why would we need to be woken up at 5:30 a.m., 2 1/2 hours before school starts?


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

The set time for my high-schooler's bus is 6:05. They are supposed to be at the stop 10 minutes before the bus is due to leave. 5:30 would be too late for us. As it happens, her bus is so ridiculously early this year we have stopped using it after 9 years. We leave by car at 7, the family get an extra hour in bed. We'd rather be bussing -especially as we pay for it- but teenagers need their sleep.


Wed, Dec 5, 2012 : 2:05 a.m.

We gave up the bus and put ours on a public bus. Extra hour to sleep in and faster too.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

I pay for public school bussing also. Maybe I should move my kid out of private school so I can get my money's worth.

Dan r OBryan

Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

if school was closed ,there would nt be any buses out? right