Inclement weather and school cancellation
Dakota CUSD #201 Inclement Weather/School Closings
Winter weather is upon us and I want to share some information on weather-related school closings so that you may be prepared for the days ahead. Student safety is always our first consideration when it comes to canceling school or events. Typically, three physical factors impact the decision to close schools. Road conditions, temperature, and visibility are all considered when determining whether or not conditions are safe enough to have school.
Snow events are the most common days for school closings. Factors that are considered when deciding on whether or not to cancel school:
● Snow accumulation and drifting
● Wind speeds (particularly for the country)
● Road conditions
● Forecast estimates for continued precipitation and temperature
When these conditions are impacted, I will consult with township road commissioners and area superintendents. There is no single rule of thumb for accumulation amounts and much of the decision depends on the presence of blowing and/or drifting snow especially on country roads. Every effort will be made to make a decision and inform families and staff as quickly as possible.
Extreme temperatures are often a part of our winters. Extreme temperatures impact people as well as our buses. Factors considered when making temperature-related cancellation decisions include:
● Duration and Timing of Cold Temps
● Safe Operation of Buses
Our key source of data is the NOAA Wind Chill Chart
(https://www.weather.gov/safety/cold-wind-chill-chart). When inside the 30-minute exposure area of the graph, attendance is questionable and dependent upon road conditions. When wind chills are likely to be to the right of that area, it is unlikely that we would attend.
Late starts have often come up as a possibility for avoiding snow days. The bottom line is that we realize the level of impact that snow days have on families to find childcare and safe coverage for children. Late starts put our community in a position to have to quickly change plans mid-morning and often result in more students of driving age being on the roads in already poor or unsafe conditions. We will avoid the use of late starts for these reasons.
Before/After School Events
Generally, if school is canceled, all events and practices are canceled. The rare occasion where this may change would involve extra-curricular tournament play at the middle or high school level if weather conditions improve throughout the day. Those situations will be communicated directly should they arise and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Student safety is always our first priority, and we ask for your assistance by dressing students appropriately for current conditions. Please send your children to school with a coat, hat, and gloves! It always amazed me as a high school principal when I saw students coming in with no coat in below zero weather.
Also, if your child is driving, it is a great idea to equip them with an emergency kit just in case. IDOT suggests always carrying jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, an ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food, and a first aid kit.
Please know that parents are the final authority in determining whether or not it’s safe for their child to attend school during inclement weather. The Dakota School District covers over 100 square miles and road conditions can vary within different parts of the district. If parents determine to keep their child home, please contact the building office. The absence will be marked as “excused.”
It is possible that on a snow day your child may have been assigned work to complete. Through the use of technology and advanced planning, many of our teachers will plan for the possibility of snow days by providing assignments or extra work should the snow day occur. Hopefully this will help you combat students that are saying “I’m bored” all day.
Finally, making a decision about having a snow day is a difficult one. We will use our best judgment and appreciate your support as we work to ensure student learning and student safety.
We will always try to have a call that goes out by 6:00 am for snow days. The automated system takes about 20 minutes to complete all calls depending on the number of school closings at the same time. We will put information out on our Facebook and website immediately for instant notification. We will also notify local media.