Delay and Closing Information
Our district staff understands that the decision to open, delay opening, or close schools in bad weather has a big impact on families. We also understand that our students are better served – both academically and socially – by being in school. And, as always, our top priority is the safety of our students and staff. With the forgoing in mind, allow me to share with you the process for deciding whether to close schools or to keep them open during inclement weather.
HOW DO WE MAKE OUR DECISION?
Please understand that we make the decision to open or close the schools in bad weather based upon a careful analysis of all relevant factors such as the:
Information on road conditions from transportation staff and the police: we must give careful consideration to the most dangerous roads in the district. Even if your street looks clear, travel elsewhere in the district may be dangerous. Also, we must consider that many high school students drive to school.
Amount of snow and ice accumulated.
Weather predictions: we prefer not to make our decision based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate; however, doing so is sometimes unavoidable.
Building conditions: e.g., is there electricity and heat?
Parking lot and sidewalk conditions: administrators talk to maintenance and custodial staff members who are responsible for clearing and treating school parking lots and sidewalks.
Temperature and wind chill: please remember that some of our students walk to school and some must wait outside for the bus.
What other school districts are doing: we also share information with other local districts and check whether they are opening or closing.
WHO MAKES THE DECISION?
As superintendent of schools, I am responsible for the final decision, based on the above factors and recommendations from the director of transportation and the director of business services.
HOW IS THE PUBLIC NOTIFIED?
In cases of either emergency closings or delayed openings, the Superintendent or his designee will:
make a BlackboardConnect® phone call to all families and staff members to notify them of the situation.
post the appropriate information on the district home page, www.uaschools.org.
request our local radio and television stations to report our situation to their listening and viewing audiences.
IF THE CONDITIONS WORSEN ONCE CLASSES HAVE BEGUN FOR THE DAY, WILL WE CLOSE SCHOOL WITH AN EARLY DISMISSAL?
If the decision was made not to close school, i.e., not have a “snow day,” and conditions worsen during the day, keep in mind that we cannot easily reverse our decision in the morning. Once we make the decision to keep schools open, many parents rely on it and leave for work. If conditions become worse during the school day and we need to have an early dismissal, we will give adequate notice to all parents first via a BlackboardConnect® call, posting the information on our website and requesting the help of our local media.
Although my staff and I do our absolute best in this process, we know that often no perfect decision exists. If you do not feel as though it is safe for your child to attend school, use your best judgment as to whether he or she should attend. Also, discourage teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives if weather conditions worsen.
We hope that this explanation helps everyone understand the process that our district staff uses to make the best possible decision for the safety of our students and staff.