One of my responsibilities as Superintendent is to make the final call on weather delays, early outs, and cancellations. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.
I understand that today’s decision may have caused some confusion and frustration. I’d like to share with you a variety of details regarding today’s weather and the related decisions around how to handle today’s school schedule.
First, the safety of students and staff members is a primary concern. It is also certainly the right of each family to keep a child home if they feel road conditions are too hazardous. Beyond that, our best hope is to make a decision and begin notifying staff and families of any change to the school schedule by 5:30am. Today, however, the potential severity of the weather conditions did not become apparent until later in the morning.
The timing of this morning’s weather meant for a delayed decision that would not be ideal for families or our transportation department. The first busses in the CRCSD fleet depart around 5:50am (and every ten minutes thereafter), with students loading busses as early as 6:15am. By around 6:40am, our transportation fleet is over halfway through our routes. Busses were already on the road and picking up students even before it was icing. Most staff members and students at the middle schools and high schools would have been well on their way to (or already at) school—both for the regular school day or for extracurricular activities occurring before school.
The most appropriate decision to be made—with all the information that was accessible to us at the time—seemed to be to keep the process moving forward to get middle and high school students to school as safely as possible and delay (and later cancel) elementary schools.
Throughout this process, I had also been in communication with local meteorologists who are confident the conditions would be switching from ice to light flurries with little to no accumulation. Our Director of Transportation was in communication with the City crews and took into consideration that while their first priority is treating main roads, they would be moving to side roads later in the day—early enough for most roads to be treated by middle school and high school dismissal times but likely not early enough for roads to be treated to warrant trying to transport elementary school students, even with a late start.
You have perhaps seen something similar to this in the past, but by way of reminder, a long list of factors are considered to make a most informed decision—and one which I believe will be the most appropriate decision for our staff, students, and our students’ families. Those factors and criteria include, but are not limited to, the following:
- the timing of the weather event (when it’s predicted to begin and end);
- what amount and type/s of precipitation – ice, snow, fog, etc. – are being predicted;
- the current temperatures (including wind chill) and those that are being predicted (understanding that a few degrees difference can be a big difference in experience);
- the timing of the changes in temperature as it relates to school start and end times;
- the possibility of a compounding event (for example, more snow on top of recent ice and snow, or something similar);
- feedback from the Transportation Director about the current state of the roads, as well as custodial/buildings and grounds staff on the logistical capacity to clear parking lots and sidewalks of our 4 high schools, 6 middle schools, and 21 elementary schools on a schedule that would allow for safety for all;
- and the fact that we have a number of students who will be driving and they are less experienced drivers than our staff members and parents/guardians.
Based on all of those factors, and others, I do my best to have the decision in place before 5:30am for a late start or cancellation, and by 10:00am for an early dismissal.
Again, safety is always the primary consideration in the overall thought process—and considerations of how to manage other factors such as transportation, child care, and academic days are folded into that conversation.
You may be wondering what all of this means for school make-up as we move forward. We are on an hours calendar, and we are guided by the school or schools with the least amount of instructional time with students. In CRCSD, that is our elementary schools with 26.5 hours beyond the state-required 1080. With the cancellation of the elementary schools today, we now have 20 hours of scheduled school time beyond the 1080. As the winter weather season continues, we will provide an update on potential implications for make-up days, but at this time, this day would not be made up.
Thank you for your understanding and patience. Thank you, most importantly, for partnering with us in effective and productive ways to best serve our students.