The winter season is upon us. Our district staff understands that our decision to open 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. But as always, our top priority is the safety of our students.
HOW DO WE MAKE OUR DECISIONS?
Please understand that we make the decision to open or close the schools in bad weather based on a careful analysis of all relevant factors, such as:
Information on road conditions from transportation staff and other pertinent officials. 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 some high school students drive to school.
Amount of snow and ice accumulated.
Whether precipitation is continuing.
Building conditions (such as whether we have electricity and heat).
Parking lot 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.
Weather predictions. We prefer not making decisions based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate. But sometimes this is unavoidable.
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.
HOW IS THE PUBLIC NOTIFIED?
First and foremost, we notify our parents and students using our ALERTnow notification system. The notification system calls phone numbers that are on file in our school district. Please make sure the phone numbers on file with our school district are correct.
Closings are given to the Daily Journal website: www.dailyjournalonline.com
They are also given to a number of radio and TV stations: KTJJ/KREI (FM98.5), KFMO (AM1240), B104, Mississippi River Radio Stations-Cape, WPSD TV (Paducah), Follis Time/Temperature (783-2557), FOX 2 News, Newschannel 5, and KFVS-TV (Cape).
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE?
The decision is normally made by 6 a.m. or earlier so we can notify media outlets. Every effort is made to announce a closing as quickly as possible knowing some parents will have already left for work, leaving their children unsupervised. The most difficult decisions to make are those when sleet or freezing rain occur after buses have already left for their morning routes. The district communicates with our drivers and monitors road conditions.
WHAT IF WE CLOSE SCHOOL EARLY?
If we close early, please make sure your phone and/or contact numbers are correct. Please make sure the names of contacts who can pick up your child is up-to-date. We will notify the same radio and television stations regarding early dismissal.
Although we 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 because of inclement weather, use your best judgment on whether he or she should attend. Also, discourage teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives if weather conditions worsen.
Hopefully, this explanation helps everyone understand the process that our district staff uses to make the best possible decision for the safety of all our students and staff in our district.