A new web site, Cancellations.com, is dedicated to announcing the beloved snow day. Internet users can plug in the name of a school district and find out whether a school is closed, instead of waiting for the school name to scroll across the TV screen or be announced on the radio.
To be included, though, public and private schools have to sign up for the free service. In the site’s first full winter season, thousands of schools from Pe Ell, Wash., to Washington, D.C., have joined.
“You can roll out of bed, hit a button, see if the cancellation is there, then rollback over and go back to sleep,” said Craig Younkman, superintendent of the Lake Orion, Mich., Community Schools, which has recently joined the service.
It doesn’t matter what hour a superintendent makes the decision to close schoolsthe information will be distributed as soon as school officials post it.
Using a private password, a superintendent can make the posting from any computer with web access.
Parents and students also can choose to be notified directly by eMail.
“The goal is to make this as fast and easy as possible for schools and parents,” Jim Candor, vice president for new media at AccuWeather, told the Detroit Free Press. The national weather forecasting agency runs Cancellations.com. Candor said about 1,000 schools a week become site members. Advertisements help pay for the site.
Site administrators are working to prevent the system from overloading and locking during big snowstorms, when potentially millions of people may log on during a short time span.
There’s also some concern about hackers, which is one reason superintendents have passwords.
School officials using the site say they will still post closings by TV and radio.