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How Winter Weather Decisions Are Made and Communicated

How Winter Weather Decisions Are Made and Communicated

There may be some rare storms or situations that require South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo Schools) to cancel school and close all district buildings, programs and learning activities due to wind chill, snow, ice, hazardous roads, inclement weather or other situations.

We are hoping to provide families with some of the “behind the scenes” work that goes into making a weather decision. We understand that families may have questions and we hope to answer some of them with the information below. 

First and foremost, the safety of students and staff is our top priority. We would also like families and staff to know we continuously evaluate school safety procedures and protocols while working to be as transparent as possible.

So how are winter weather decisions made?

SoWashCo Schools consults with a variety of internal and external experts in order to make the best decision possible for students, staff and families.

  • We attend several webinars put on by the National Weather Service (NWS) in the days and hours leading up to potential weather events.
  • We continually monitor the forecast from the NWS in order to make the best decision for students and staff.
  • We speak directly to the meteorologists at the NWS to gather information specific to SoWashCo Schools and the communities we serve. We discuss weather and road conditions with area school district leaders and city officials.
  • We have a team of staff who drive through neighborhoods in the community to get a feel for the road conditions.
  • We consult our District transportation staff and our contracting busing company.  

The Superintendent, along with a team of district leaders uses the information gathered, and evaluates several factors before making the decision to cancel school for the day. 

THE DECISION to move to an emergency closure for weather will generally be made by 5 a.m. the morning of a cancellation for weather. Depending on forecast certainty, the decision may be made the evening before a cancellation.

SNOWY WEATHER cancellations may occur due to snow, ice or hazardous road conditions that make it extremely hazardous or impossible for school buses to travel their routes.

COLD WEATHER cancellations may occur if the expected forecast for 6 a.m. shows that the wind chill will be -35 Fahrenheit or colder and the National Weather Service issues a wind chill warning.
Communicating emergency closures
Once the decision is made to cancel school or move to an e-learning day as a result of snowy or hazardous road conditions, our goal is to communicate this information to staff and families by 5:30 a.m. We try to communicate cold weather closures the evening before a cancellation. 
We send text, robocalls and email messages to families and staff.
We post-emergency closure information on our websites, social media and on local television news stations. 
We follow up the emergency closure messages with after-school and evening activities and athletics information by noon.

Please be reminded that our automated system may mean that individuals are receiving the communication at slightly different times. We do our best to get the information out as quickly and accurately as possible.