Updated November 2020

 

One of the challenges for the Superintendent of Schools is deciding whether or not to cancel or delay school due to inclement weather. Like weather forecasting, the school-closing decision process is not a perfect science. However, it is important for families to understand how the process works. This FAQ document was designed to answer such questions.

 

What is different this school year?

This year, due to our hybrid and remote learning models, the Commissioner of Education has indicated in the event of inclement weather that he will allow districts to call a “remote learning day,” rather than cancel school.  Remote learning days do not have to be made up at the end of the year. The WPS will exercise this option unless there are significant power outages that would prevent us from implementing remote instruction. 

 

In the event of widespread power outages, we would call for a typical snow day. Snow days do have to be made up at the end of the year. 

 

What is the schedule for a remote learning day?

A remote learning day of instruction will follow this year’s remote Wednesday schedule.

 

Who makes the decision about whether or not to close school?

The Superintendent of Schools, in consultation with the Director of Operations, Westwood’s Department of Public Works, the Highway Department, and Westwood Police officials, makes the final decision by 5:45am or earlier.  If made later, parents have little time to make arrangements for childcare, and some school district staff may have already left for work.

 

What information is gathered to aid in the decision?

There are multiple factors used in deciding whether or not to close school: information on road conditions, snow accumulation predictions, building conditions such as electricity and heat, parking lot conditions, air temperature and wind chill, and estimated times from the Department of Public Works as to when roads, walkways, and parking lots will be cleared of snow and ice.

 

How is the information acquired?

District staff monitors state and local weather forecasts. The Department of Public Works and Westwood Police officials provide updates on neighborhood road conditions.

 

What are parents’ responsibilities?

The safety of your child is paramount. On days when weather conditions are questionable, but school remains open, parents are free to exercise discretion and keep children home from school and call them into school as absent. Parents of adolescent drivers are asked to reinforce winter weather driving skills: allowing extra travel time, reducing speed, clearing all snow and ice from vehicles, and not worrying about being late.

 

How do power outages affect the decision?

Inclement weather can affect the timeline for utility companies to restore electricity. If all school buildings have electricity, the goal will be to open school. Other factors also influence the decision, including whether a number of neighborhoods are without power.

 

What is a delayed opening?

Rather than close school for a whole day due to short-term weather situations, there may be days when the beginning of school will be delayed one hour, ninety minutes, or two hours. School will simply start later by the length of the delay. Bus pickup, therefore, will also occur later. For example, if your child is normally picked up at 8:35am, during a one hour delayed opening he/she will be picked up at 9:35am.  

 

How is the public notified?

 

Waiting for television broadcasts is often the least effective means of learning about school closings. For example, only one network has provided the option of listing “virtual day.” It is recommended that you first rely on the school-based communication resources above. Each station also posts school closings on its website.

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