Making Weather Related School Closing Decisions
January 11, 2016
Dear Orange Schools Families,
The Orange City School District understands that the decision to close schools or resort to an early release due to inclement weather or loss of utilities has an enormous effect on all of our families. The following information may help you to better understand the process used when making the decision.
HOW DO WE MAKE OUR DECISION?
When inclement weather or loss of utilities impacts the Orange City School District communities, we make the decision whether to close schools or modify the school day schedule based upon a careful analysis of all relevant factors including:
- Information on road conditions from our transportation staff, local safety forces and local road crews; we must give careful consideration to the most dangerous roads; they can be treacherous, even if your road or street looks clear.
- Amount of accumulated snow and ice.
- Whether precipitation is expected to continue throughout the day.
- Temperature and wind chill.
- Weather predictions from satellite systems, local radar, National Weather and NOAA Weather Radio.
- Storm timing.
- Building conditions (such as whether there is electricity and heat).
WHO MAKES THE DECISION?
- Discussions with Superintendents and Operation Directors from area school districts beginning the prior evening.
As Superintendent of Schools, I am responsible for the final decision, based upon the factors above and recommendations from the Director of Operations, road crews, and local safety officials, as warranted. Weather and road conditions may be fine in one portion of the district but not in another. In such instances we must close school or modify the school day for the entire district.
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE?
I strive to make the decision by 5:30 a.m. or earlier, so that we can notify local television and radio stations, post it to our website and Twitter feed, and send automated messages (text, phone, e-mail) to families and staff through our Parent Notification System. Keep in mind that unusual weather conditions may force us to make the decision after this time.
If we believe conditions will be safe within a two-hour window, we may choose to operate on a two-hour delay instead of canceling an entire day of student learning. If conditions are not expected to improve within this timeframe, an additional two-hour delay will not be called. Instead, school will be cancelled for the day.
WILL WE CLOSE SCHOOLS IF CONDITIONS WORSEN?
Even if weather conditions worsen we cannot reverse our decision in the morning without endangering student safety. Once we make the decision to open the schools, many parents rely on it and leave for work. If we then send students back home, many will return to unsupervised bus stops and empty houses. If conditions worsen during the school day, we may need to have an earlier dismissal, but we will give as much notice as possible through the previously mentioned means. (Please make sure that you have completed and returned the early-release information sheet for your child.)
Although we do our absolute best in this process by carefully considering all information, we know that weather forecasting is an imperfect science and often no perfect decision exists. As always, our top priority is the safety of our students. If you do not feel that it is safe for your child to get to the school, use your best judgment as to whether or not he or she should attend.
Please note: If the Orange Schools are open, students are expected to report to school; weather related absences will not be excused since bus transportation is available. Students late to school may receive an excused tardy, based on administrative discretion. Also, please discourage teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives as weather conditions worsen.
I hope that this explanation helps in understanding the process used to make the best possible decision for everyone in the district.
Edwin S. Holland