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What Constitutes a Snow Day in Dexter?

Sean Burton, transportation director for Dexter Community Schools, outlines snow day plans for the district.

Parents and students woke up Monday morning to a surprise notice that Dexter Community Schools was canceling classes.

While the news of a second snow day was music to the ears of students, several parents took to social media sites to express disapproval.

"I thought some enterprising student had hacked the phone system when I got the robo call this morning. This is Michigan not Georgia," Catherine Freiman wrote on Patch's Facebook wall.

Monday's weather forecast called for mostly clear skies with a high near 37 degrees and a wind advisory through 10 p.m.

Ruth Hamilton said she sent her son to the bus stop before receiving notification that school was canceled.

"He was there all alone until a neighbor drove by and told him no school," she said.

Sean Burton, director of transportation for Dexter Community Schools, said the district determines snow days on a case-by-case basis.

"On any typical day that could be 'iffy,' I get up around 3 a.m. to drive around and check the roads," he explained. "I have a certain path that covers the district, from the south side to the north side, and I try to drive on back roads as much as I can."

Burton said several unpaved roads in the district were covered in ice Monday morning.

"Most of the paved roads were fine. Jerusalem, Trinkle, Merill, and other rural roads were a sheet of ice. I couldn’t even get traction on my car tires to get moving," he said.

Burton said often after heavy snow followed by rain, snow becomes packed and ice takes longer to melt on rural roads with a lot of tree cover.

"The superintendent makes the ultimate decision on whether or not to cancel school," Burton said. "I gave him my strong recommendation to cancel classes (Monday) after talking with other transportation directors in other school districts."

Chelsea School District and Manchester Community Schools also canceled classes on Monday.

Burton said when classes are canceled, the district works with local radio and television stations to make sure parents are notified quickly. Transportation employees also use the district's "Alert Now" system, which notifies parents via phone and email about school closings and other news.

"We try to let parents know by 5:30 or 6 a.m. in order to give them plenty of notice," he said.

The announcement is also posted on the district's website by 5:30 a.m.

In response to a questions about students left at bus stops on snow days, Burton acknowledged that the district's alert system is not perfect.

"It’s not a perfect system. Alert Now only pulls information from families who have up-to-date emails and phone numbers in the system," Burton said. "If someone is not getting the phone calls, I would make sure all their information is current with the district."

Still, Burton said the district makes a conscious effort to notify all parents of school closings and snow days either through local media or email.

"We try to hit as many avenues as possible to let people know what's going on," he said.

For more information or to register with the Alert Now system, call 734-424-4100.

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