Monday, January 12, 2015

School Delays/Closing

 It's that time of year!
Ever wonder what goes on prior to that 5 a.m. call? A series of assessments start by 4:00 a.m., and often before.

Weather-related closings and early dismissals are made based on careful analysis of many relevant factors. Weather-related school schedule adjustments impact families, and although we believe that our students are best served by being in school, our top priority is the safety of all. The District Superintendent conferences with other area District Superintendents to gather global information. Roadways, school grounds and common trouble spots are checked. The Director of Transportation, Chief Security Officer, and Operations and Maintenance Coordinator all give reports and recommendations to the Superintendent.

Once a decision is made, multiple modes of communication are deployed to reach families and staff as quickly as possible. A message is created and sent using the district's automated notification system. This may include a phone call, text message and/or email. We hate the early calls, but they are often unavoidable.

Regional broadcast media, including major TV networks are notified. The district website is updated to reflect the alert and a headline is created for all school home pages. District social media sites may be used for quick alerts and sharing. The timing of these communications may vary from one event to another. Occasionally, harsh weather also affects power and/or internet, which may cause delays in messaging. Our goal is to notify staff and families as soon as possible!

Below are some of the factors considered when making school closing/delay decisions:

Information on road conditions from transportation staff, township officials, and
the police
Owen J. Roberts School District spans 100 square miles of some of the most beautiful rural countryside in the state. Unpaved roads, covered bridges, narrow roadways, hills and mountains all come into the equation when assessing road safety. Even if conditions in one neighborhood seem clear, travel elsewhere in the district may be treacherous. Our administrators get out on the roads and check in real time conditions.

Amount of snow and ice accumulated and whether precipitation is continuing

Timing of the weather incident
Building conditions (Do all buildings have electricity and heat?)

Parking lot conditions
There are seven school properties to make safe prior to the arrival of students and staff.

Weather predictions
Several forecasts are considered. We know that weather predictions are not always accurate.

Young drivers
Young drivers are a consideration when making early dismissal and school closing decisions. 

We like to say that a call for a delay or closing is a sure fire way to get the bad weather to stop immediately! It can happen. It has happened. But we always come back to safeguarding our students, staff and community, and appreciate the patience of each person as we strive to do just that.

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