An Avalanche of School Closings

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

When the weather turns bad, silent crawls get a lot of attention.

It may only be early December on the calendar, but winter arrived in the Mid-Ohio Valley this week.

And with it came an avalanche of school closings.

You may be interested to know that we began working with schools and major employers in September to make sure we had proper contact information in place so that we can get the word out to you when the snow starts flying.

Nearly 100 different schools, organizations, factories and major retail locations have the ability to post closings to our website and our TV station almost automatically.

Each fall, we go through a list of each location, to confirm that the contact person hasn't changed, or if so, who the new contact is and how that person can be reached even at 5 o'clock in the morning if need be.

We try to make sure that every person knows how the system works ahead of time.

And we try to communicate to the general public that our news department has NO inter-action with the folks who handle closings. That is all done separately through our computerized closing system.

That's why we tell folks not to call the newsroom to find out if a school is open or closed -- the newsroom isn't involved in gathering or disseminating this information. The news folks are far too busy tracking down road hazards and other important details to take on this job, too.

So, when the weather is bad, all you have to do is turn to WTAP-TV to see the closings crawl across the bottom of the screen or go to wtap.com and click on the Schools tab at the top of the page. That will take you to a section where you'll find a big box that says School Closings. Click on that, and you'll have a list that will automatically update as new announcements come in.

Sometimes in the evening, I call this up and just leave it on the screen, so I can watch the list grow as the snow gets deeper.

If you have a digital TV, you'll notice that we don't usually run these closings on our digital stations. That's because we'd have to turn OFF the HD signals to run the crawls. Rather than do that, we run a different, shorter crawl, letting those viewers know they can find the closings on our analog channel or wtap.com.

Thanks to all of the school and business officials who log on and send their closings to wtap.com, so that we can get them out to you asap.

It's a big job, and we're glad to help.

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