Explanation of Unanticipated School Closings
Dear Parents and Guardians:
With the possibility of inclement weather, power outages, and building issues occurring at any time, I would like to take this opportunity to remind the community that school closings and/or delayed openings may be necessary to ensure the safety of our school community. Our district staff understands that our decision to open or close schools often has a major effect 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 is based on a careful analysis of all relevant factors. Some of these factors include:
- Information on road conditions from our D.P.W./Highway officials, transportation and public safety 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. In addition, 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 facilities staff members who are responsible for clearing and treating school sidewalks and doorways. In addition, private contractors are sometimes responsible for clearing school parking lots, so their schedules and availability must also be considered.
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 to not make our decision based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate. However, 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 other district administrators.
HOW IS THE PUBLIC NOTIFIED?
Tune to television channels 4, 5, 7, 10 and 25 and radio stations WBZ - 1030 AM, WATD- AM, and WPLM – FM for up-to-date information on school closings. You can also check Whitman-Hanson’s local Comcast cable channel 98 and our district Web site www.whrsd.org for information. As we have done in the past, we will also be utilizing the features of the school to parent telephone communication system. Please be sure that your telephone contact information, submitted to the district, is correct. Please do not call the schools unless it is an emergency.
WHEN THE DECISION IS 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 local cable and on our Web site. If I wait longer to announce a closing, it would make it very difficult for families and school personnel to change their morning routines. We send the automated call message as soon as possible.
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 schools, many parents rely on that decision and leave for work. If we then send students right back home, many will return to unsupervised bus stops and empty homes.
Although the staff and I 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, 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.
We hope this explanation helps everyone understand the process that our district staff uses to make the best possible decision for our students.
Whitman-Hanson Regional School District