HOW IS THE DECISION MADE? SAFETY IS PRIORITY The winter season is upon us. Our district administration, faculty, and staff understand that our decision to open or close school during inclement weather often disrupts family schedules and means the school year may have to be extended. We also understand that our students are better served -academically and socially -by being in school. But, as always, our top priority is the safety of our students. So the decision to close school is not an easy one. The process is complex and involves many people.
HOW DO WE MAKE OUR DECISION? Please understand that we make the decision to open or close school in bad weather based on a careful analysis of all relevant factors, such as:
• Information on road conditions from transportation staff and from local law enforcement and road crews.
• Amount of snow and ice accumulation.
• Whether precipitation will continue throughout the day.
• Temperature and wind chill.
• Weather predictions (including those from the weather alert service).
• Storm Timing
• Building conditions (such as whether we have electricity and heat).
• Parking lot conditions
WHO MAKES THE DECISION? The Superintendent is ultimately responsible for the final decision based on the above factors and recommendations from the Facilities Manager and First Student Bus Company. We consult with area superintendents who have situations similar to ours regarding busing and students walking. Still, each district has its own unique circumstances.
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE? We strive to make the decision by 5:45 a.m., or earlier so we can notify you via SchoolMessenger and various websites. Keep in mind that unusual weather conditions may force us to make the decision after this time. Please stay tuned to the media and communication outlets. However, it is very important for parents to have plans in place in case the decision needs to be made later. It is quite possible that bus or building issues could come up and not be discovered until after 6:00 a.m. In those cases, decisions on school attendance could be made at a later time.
WILL WE CLOSE SCHOOL IF CONDITIONS WORSEN? Even if the weather conditions worsen, we typically cannot reverse our decision in the morning without endangering students. Once we make the decision to open school, 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 an early dismissal, but we will give as much notice as possible through the previously mentioned stations. Although we do our absolute best in the 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 on whether or not he or she should attend. During very extreme weather conditions, if you choose to keep your child at home, his/her absence will be counted as an excused absence.
Regarding extra-curricular events, practices, and other school-related activities outside of the normal day, we prefer to exercise flexibility in these situations as opposed to an inflexible policy. Often times events scheduled in the evening could be held as conditions improve. Some schools do not have that policy, and we will respect the wishes of the individual districts involved. Again, we will support those decisions made in good faith out of the personal beliefs regarding your child's safety.
HOW IS THE PUBLIC NOTIFIED?
• School Messenger phone call and email
• RCS district website www.rcs137.org
• Channel 3 News TV and their website at www.wcia.com
These alerts occur in mass release and will be posted and received in a random fashion, but will be released as soon as decisions are made. It is very important that your phone number and email is up to date in Skyward so you can receive the SchoolMessenger calls and emails. Call your child's school(s) to update your phone number.
HOW MANY DAYS CAN WE TAKE? School districts typically build five emergency days per school year into their calendars. If emergency days are used, they must be made up at the end of the school year. If we use more than the allotted 5 emergency days, we can apply to the State Board of Education for "Act of God" days and hope it is approved. Otherwise, the emergency days beyond the scheduled 5 will also need to be made up.
Contrary to popular belief, we do not keep schools open for monetary benefits. Attendance data is not used for state funding formulas.
It is challenging to become completely acclimated to cold weather, but we are hopeful thatstudents, parents, and staff are preparing their vehicles with emergency gear, making sure phones stay charged, and everyone dresses appropriately when going out in the elements. We understand bus stops can be an issue with children waiting out in the cold and ask parents to ensure theirstudents are prepared or make other arrangements for transportation.
• Our key source of data is the NOAA Wind Chill Chart: https://www.weather.gov/safety/cold-windchill-chart