Our district staff understands that our decision to open or close schools in bad weather has an effect on families. We also understand that our students are better served, both academically and socially, by being in school. During times of inclement weather though, our top priority is the safety of our students, faculty and staff. As such, it is important to know that inclement weather may lead to school delays, closures, and early releases during the upcoming winter months.
It is important to understand that decisions about delayed starts, school closures, and early releases are made with the best of intents. It is possible that a decision to delay the start of school, close school or release students/staff early is made and suddenly the weather conditions improve. Conversely, there may be times when school is not delayed or closed only to see weather conditions worsen. Our decisions are made with the most accurate information we have at that time.
It is also important that your child(rens’) school has your current emergency contact information, including phone numbers as well as email address. Please take time to update that information with your child(rens’) school by contacting your student’s school office staff.
HOW DO WE MAKE OUR DECISION?
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 from 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 some high school students drive to school.
- Amount of snow and ice accumulated and whether precipitation is continuing.
- Building conditions (such as whether we have electricity and heat), and parking lot conditions.
- 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 make our decision based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate. But sometimes this is unavoidable.
- Consultation with other school districts.
WHO MAKES THE DECISION?
As superintendent of schools, I am responsible for the final decision, based on the above factors and recommendations from VT Agency of Transportation, Green Mountain Transit, Milton Town Transportation, Director of Facilities. In addition, I confer with neighboring superintendents.
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE?
I must make the decision by 5:30 am or earlier so we can notify radio and TV stations and post the decision on our website. If I wait longer to announce a closing, some parents will have already left for work, leaving their children unsupervised.
HOW IS THE PUBLIC NOTIFIED?
Families are notified via Messenger, our automated message service that delivers either email, phone and/or text messages to families that have shared pertinent information with us. In addition, we share the information with WCAX and post it on our website and FaceBook page.
WHAT ARE THE LOGISTICS FOR DELAYS AND CANCELLATIONS
School Is Closed: No transportation service is provided and no access to the building is available.
School is Delayed: Delays are typically for two hours (defined as two hours later than the time students are normally picked up by bus or dropped off at school by parents/guardians.) A two-hour delay gives snow/ice a chance to melt as well as gives maintenance and road crews time to clear school sidewalks and parking lots. If a two-hour delay occurs, morning preschool will be canceled for the day. Afternoon pre-school busses will run at their regular times.
Early Release: Mid-day inclement weather can create different problems; however, the district seldom uses early dismissal. The district is reluctant to do this for several reasons.
- The bus fleet must get prepared and requires 2 hour notification to do so.
- Notification to families can create hardship in organizing supervision.
WILL WE CLOSE SCHOOL IF CONDITIONS WORSEN?
Keep in mind that, even if weather conditions worsen, we cannot reverse our decision in the morning without endangering students. Once we make the decision to open the schools, many parents rely on it and leave for work. If we then send students right back home, many will return to unsupervised bus stops and empty houses. If conditions get worse during the school day, we may need to have any early dismissal, but we will give adequate notice to all parents first.
Although my staff and I do our absolute best in this process, we know that often no perfect decision exists. If, based on current weather conditions, you do not feel as though it is safe for your child to attend school, use your best judgement on 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 all in our district.
Amy Rex, Superintendent