Weather-Related Closures And Early Dismissals
Living in Wisconsin, there is always the potential for inclement weather conditions warranting delayed starts or emergency closings of school. The decision to delay or close schools is serious and made using the most current and accurate information available at the time. The following provides information regarding the conditions and process involved with the decision.
Standard for closing:
Although there is no hard and fast rule for closing, we use standards applied by the National Weather Service to guide our decision making. We consider closing for cold when the weather service issues a Wind Chill Warning (sustained -35 degrees). For snow and ice we consider closing when the weather service issues a Winter Storm Warning (6” snow in 12 hours, 8” snow in 24 hours, 2” sleet, .” or more of ice, blowing snow), Blizzard Warning, and an Ice Storm Warning. It is important to understand that these standards do not result in any automatic decision but instead trigger an analysis that also considers factors like timing and anticipated duration of a weather event.
When weather is forecast that may warrant school delays or closings conditions are evaluated early in the morning including analyzing updated information from the National Weather Service. Furthermore discussions may take place with other area school districts, the bus company, the police department, and the department of public works.
A decision to close school must be made prior to 5:00 a.m. on any given day. This provides adequate time to notify media outlets, staff, and families prior to the need for anyone to begin travel to school. When the decision is made to close, all major media outlets are notified and all parents and staff are contacted by phone and email using our automated school messenger system.
Once students are on campus, it is very difficult to close school at a substantially earlier time than regularly scheduled dismissal. Bus drivers need to be brought in and many have other part-time jobs. In addition, parents need ample notice to make arrangements for the care of young students. The most likely scenario involving early dismissal would involve sending buses 10-20 minutes early to avoid drop off delays caused by slower driving conditions.
The decision to delay or close school affects thousands of people and is not made lightly. The safety of students, staff, and parents is certainly our top priority and is weighed heavily when considering all pertinent information and considering a course of action.