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12-9-16 Inclement Weather Protocols

The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and families is paramount in any decision to close schools. When a “snow day” or “inclement weather day” is called, it is done as early as possible (before 5:30 a.m. and often earlier, including the night before in some cases). The decision is made after much deliberation among district officials who monitor road and building conditions throughout the night in consultation with other area school superintendents and with expert advice from a national meteorologist who can help predict a storm’s path as much as 48 hours before it reaches our area. The weather conditions and issues taken into consideration in closing schools due to weather include:

• The amount of snowfall and its impact on road (including side roads and dirt roads) and parking lot conditions and the ability to safely transport students to school.

• The timing of a storm and the ability of local road crews and district personnel to clear roads and parking lots in time for the safe transport of students to school.

• Ice or freezing rain and its impact on road and parking lot conditions — as well as the potential for downed trees and power lines — and the ability to safely transport students to school.

• Dangerous temperatures or wind chills that carry a high risk for frostbite in a short period of time. To close school based on cold alone (rather than in conjunction with concerns about road conditions, bus issues or other safety considerations), the actual temperature combined with wind chill considerations are greater (colder) than -19 to -22 degrees below zero. This figure is based on the range of temperature/wind chill that carries a higher risk of frostbite at the 30 minute threshold (for exposed skin). For a detailed wind chill chart go to:

• Building problems such as loss of heat, power or water service.

The quickest and easiest way to learn about school closings is via the district’s parent notification system (Edulink), which uses the main contact information within MI-STAR to call parents with snow day notifications, student attendance issues, building updates and other important information. Details regarding the Edulink call-out system and the options available for parents can be found at:

School closing announcements are also sent out via the district’s LISTSERV e-mail service, and through radio and television stations that participate in the Detroit Media School Closings Alliance: WJBK-TV (FOX 2), WDIV-TV (Local 4), WXYZ-TV (Channel 7), WWJ-TV (CBS Detroit), WKBD-TV (CW 50), WWJ Newsradio 950 and News/Talk WJR-AM 760.

Although it seldom occurs, it also may be necessary to close school early due to weather. In the event of an early closure, every effort is made to release elementary students no earlier than 3:15 p.m. (normal dismissal is 3:45 p.m.). This may mean that high school and middle school students are released earlier than their normal dismissal times in order to keep the buses running on time for elementary students. Again, notification regarding an early school closure is made as soon as possible by LISTSERV, Edulink, the district website and local TV and radio stations.

With the shift in weather, it’s also an appropriate time to make sure each and every student has the necessary outdoor gear to travel to and from school safely and to enjoy opportunities to get outside for recess. The general rule of thumb for outdoor recess at the elementary level is outdoor play whenever the actual temperature and wind-chill are above 0 degrees. There are resources available for those who may find it a hardship to secure the necessary winter gear, if this is the case, please contact your child’s principal and/or school social worker for assistance.

I hope you will find this information helpful as we prepare to traverse another Michigan winter and all that it may bring. Stay safe and warm.

Mary K. Gallagher