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As the winter weather season approaches it is common for patrons, students, teachers, and parents to ask about when schools will be closed due to weather. In an effort to be proactive I would like to take this opportunity to explain the process used to make the decision to close schools.
The superintendent, by Board policy, is ultimately responsible and accountable for closing schools. If the superintendent is out of the district and unavailable, Assistant Superintendents Darin Nielsen and Terry Jackson have the authority to make that decision.
The decision to close schools comes after significant input from others who are in a position to provide solid advice. For students that ride district buses to school, our responsibility for their safety begins when they are picked up in the morning and ends when they are delivered to their bus stop. Jean Cannon, district’s Transportation Director, provides advice on whether or not we can accomplish this safely. Jean gains input from the state, county, and city road crews as well as some of our regular route drivers. The various law enforcement officers serving our county is another source of information.
If in the middle of a snow storm, another important source of information comes from our employees who live in various parts of the county as well as those who live in surrounding counties. If our employees are unable to make it to work, the families of our students would have the same type of challenge.
Information is collected and if a decision is made before the buses begin to pick up students for school the decision to close schools will be advertised on the various media outlets that serve our county. We will also make use of social media and our mass message system to inform parents. I would encourage families to “presume” school is open, unless they hear differently since weather related closures are extremely rare. When the weather is bad, we encourage parents to send their children to school on the buses, there are few vehicles on the road safer than a school bus.
Once students are in school, it is the district’s intent to keep them there until the school day ends. Sending students home early without timely, prior notification to parents can be a formula for disaster. When parents know their child will be home at a certain time, they can make appropriate plans to have doors open, family members home, or neighbors available to help. When parents are not informed in a timely manner, students are placed at risk.
There are always exceptions, flexibility is important when dealing with people and changing situations. Parents may choose to keep their children home or come to school to pick them up early during a storm. The District will always look at the entire situation and try to make the best decision possible given the information that is available. We appreciate your support and understanding.