It certainly appears that winter is here to stay! We recognize school closings and delays can be disruptive to normal family routines, and they have an obvious impact on the instructional time we have with our students. We value every minute we get to spend educating our students and believe it is important to keep them in a school routine as much as possible. We have received several questions this year about why we have or haven’t closed, why we open on a 2-hour delay when temperatures are only rising slightly (if at all) in that time frame, and more. I wanted to share some information on how we make decisions.
- Closing - The decision to close is made when it looks like dangerous travel or weather conditions are going to persist or worsen in such a way that it does not appear that transitioning our 6,000 (+) students and staff from home to school and back again is advisable. We are always reluctant to close our schools because of the serious impact it has on families and learning. Closings will generally be reserved for heavy snow, power/heat outages or persistent cold temperatures of -20 °F (windchill) or lower.
- Delays - A delayed start allows time for the conditions of our roads, sidewalks and buildings to be improved so that we can safely transition our students and staff or for weather to improve, along with other considerations discussed below. A medium snowstorm overnight or a frigid overnight that looks to get a little better with time are examples of when we might utilize a delay.
At times, including over the last couple of days, we have experienced cold spells where a delay doesn’t seem to make a substantial difference in the temperature. There are still considerations that can make a delay advisable even beyond the temperature differential. These include:
- Traveling in daylight – On a normal school day, our high school and middle school bus runs start around 6:30 a.m., well before sunrise. We believe it's safer for our student drivers, walkers and buses to be traveling when others can more easily see if a problem has occurred.
- Warming the buses – While we have a well-maintained bus fleet, the extra time to inspect and warm up the buses helps reduce the chance of mechanical problems once on the road or delayed routes that can strand students at bus stops.
- Preparing our facilities – Our custodial crews spend a considerable amount of time checking our heating and plumbing systems to ensure they are in proper working order before bringing students into the building. The extra time also allows our team to clear any drifted snow or ice from the walkways and to make sure that our staff is ready to safely welcome our students to our buildings.
As we navigate the rest of this winter season, we appreciate the partnership with our parents to ensure our children are properly dressed for cold weather. We also encourage parents to arrange for a friend or neighbor to transport children to and from school or the bus stop when needed. We will continue to evaluate weather conditions on a day-by-day basis to make the best decisions for the safety of all students. Have a question or comment? Email the Superintendent at firstname.lastname@example.org