Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Inclement weather days – How do we make the decision?

Inclement weather days – How do we make the decision?
School closing and delays
The winter season can arrive early in Western North Carolina. Do you remember the light snow on Halloween year before last?
Our district administration, faculty and staff understand that our decision to open or close schools during inclement weather has a big effect on families. We also recognize that our students are better served – both academically and socially – by being in school.
However, our top priority is the safety of our students, families and staff.

What factors do we consider?
Please understand that we make the decision to open or close school based on a careful analysis of all relevant factors, such as:
 Information on road conditions from transportation staff, local law enforcement and road crews
 Amount of snow and ice accumulated; remember, your road may be clear while others might be treacherous
 Weather predictions/radar, is precipitation ending or will it continue throughout the day?
 Temperature with wind chills at or below -15F
 Whether or not the City can treat problem areas in a timely manner
 Building conditions (such as whether they have electricity and heat)
 Parking lot conditions

Who makes the decision?
As Superintendent of Schools, I am ultimately responsible for the final decision based on the above factors and recommendations from our Transportation Director and Communications Division.
When a closing or two-hour delay decision is made, where are the notifications posted?
We strive to make a decision by 5:45 AM or earlier so we can notify TV and radio stations and post the status via our website
(, Facebook, Twitter, emails and texts and the district hotline (350-6188). Keep in mind that changing weather conditions, not unusual in the mountains, may force us to make a decision later than 6:00 AM or to change a previously announced status.

Will we close schools if conditions worsen?
If conditions worsen during the school day, we may need to call an early dismissal and will give as much notice as possible to families and staff. Keep in mind that an early dismissal could occur soon after students first arrive at school. 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 that it is safe for your child to get to school, use your best judgment whether or not he or she should attned. If you choose to keep your child at home, his/her absence will be counted as an excused absence. Also, please discourage teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives as
weather conditions worsen. Bottom line: safety will always come first in our inclement weather decisions. As you remember from last winter, both Atlanta and Raleigh got themselves into serious situations by delaying dismissal until it was too late.

How will I be notified about an early dismissal?
If school is dismissed early, we will first send a recorded call to every phone number in our School Messenger database, including work, home and cell phones. The dismissal status will then be relayed to the four local TV stations and to ten radio stations, as well as posted via our website, Facebook, Twitter, emails, texts, the district hotline and 211. It is imperative that you keep current the phone
and email information you provide to your school, which will ensure our calls and emails reach you.

How many days can we miss?
Calendar law changes over recent years have limited the number of makeup days available in our school calendar. We will keep you informed in advance about potential makeup days, which could include teacher workdays, Saturdays, extension of the school year or a portion of Spring Break. Our intention is to complete the school year by June 9, but because we received a weather waiver from the
state, we could extend the school year past this point. If we miss a significant number of days this winter, we will survey all our families to record your preferences for makeup day options.

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