The process of canceling school due to snow revolves around one man, whom some call “The Trap” – and Malvern’s Maintenance team.
“I wake up, and I hear there’s a snow day, then I go back to sleep. It’s such a good feeling,” said Aaron Shirker ‘17. Like Shirker, many other Malvern students are excited and happy to wake up and realize that school has been cancelled or delayed.
While it is often unpredictable to know when school will be affected by the snow, there is a definite process that is followed.
According to Assistant Head of School Mr. Steve Valyo, who has been heading the process for the past two years, the process begins at 4:30 AM or earlier, when he wakes up and checks the top six school districts that Malvern students belong to. These include West Chester, Great Valley, Downingtown, Marple Newtown, Phoenixville, and Tredyffrin/Easttown.
Valyo considers these districts the main source when deciding to start late, cancel school, or have a normal day.
It generally will take more than one these schools to be closed or have a delay for Malvern to have one. “Last week even though Marple was closed, the other top four were not. That’s why we were still in,” said Valyo.
The next step, assuming the districts are mostly open, is ensuring Malvern’s campus is safe. According to Valyo, that process is headed by Director of Maintenance Mr. Bruce Smith.
Smith says he, along with the rest of his team, wakes up at 4:00 AM and gets to Malvern as soon as possible. They then start at the bus drop off and at the parent drop off and work their way into the center of campus, clearing snow and ice.
“If there’s not going to be a delay,” Smith said, “8:00 AM is our deadline.”
Smith and his team of six others use three John Deere snowblowers and two tractors with plows for heavier snow. If the snow is light, they will use leaf blowers to blow the snow off the pathways and Ring Road.
Smith said, “If the campus is really bad, then I’ll report to him (Valyo) on what my thoughts are, but generally we follow whatever West Chester and Great Valley and Tredyffrin do.”
If the campus cannot be prepared on time, then Valyo will call in to KYW to impart the delay or cancellation of school.
Valyo said he prefers to send out a text message to Malvern’s text messaging list first, by 5:15 AM.
What about early dismissals? “Early dismissals (are) dictated also by the school districts,” Valyo said. “They’ll call us and say ‘hey, look, we’re coming to get the kids.’” The drivers in each district with an early dismissal will also be allowed to leave at the same time as the buses from their district, according to Valyo.
In the event of a snow day, the eight-day rotation continues as it is listed on the Malvern calendar, according to Valyo. “What we’re doing is logging the day that’s been impacted the most, and we’ll make that particular day up,” said Valyo.
Valyo said that the day that misses the most will have an added extra day on days that are marked blank on the calendar. February 18 and March 23 are upcoming ‘blank’ days on the Malvern calendar.
Malvern had 6 full snow days and 12 two hour delays last year. This amount of delays caused the entire final exam process to be amended so that the lost days could be made up. Is Mr. Valyo more cautious when calling snow days this year because of last year’s weather?
“Nah,” said Valyo.
The pandemonium and uncertainty of whether or not snow days will occur prompted some Malvern students to tweet at Head of School Mr. Christian Talbot, asking for a call. Talbot responded by tweeting that Mr. Valyo, whom he referred to as “The Trap” makes the calls. He encouraged the students to lobby Mr. Valyo to get on Twitter.
When shown the tweet, Valyo said with a laugh, “They want me to get a Twitter account so they can harass me? Well, maybe I’ll take that under consideration.”
Valyo did later create a Twitter account and announced in a tweet, “‘The Trap’ has arrived.” You can ask him all your snow related questions by tweeting @srvmalvern.