How the decision is made to close, delay an opening or early dismiss the schools in bad weather or emergencies and what to do if that happens
Naturally, the primary consideration in the decision to close or to delay the opening of school is the safety of the students. And, as the students in the schools range from 5 to 18 years of age, one must take into consideration the youngest pupil who may walk to school as well as the most capable of our driving teenagers.
A second consideration is that many of our teachers and other staff members do not live in New Canaan and must travel substantial distances to reach our schools. Their safety while commuting is of real concern to us as well.
In addition, the ability of the Public Works Department to plow all of the streets traveled by buses and children as well as the ability of our maintenance staff to clear each school site has to be factored into any decision regarding closings or delays. In some cases, public streets and/or school driveways are unable to be cleared until the following day. It is also important to remember that weather and street conditions can vary greatly within the boundaries of New Canaan.
The actual process of making the decision to close school or to delay its opening begins with the constant monitoring of weather reports, usually beginning the night before. At 4:30 AM, the Police Department calls the superintendent to report on road conditions throughout town. The superintendent then checks with the Department of Public Works to determine its schedule for clearing the roads. Next, neighboring superintendents are called to ascertain road and weather conditions in his or her area. The decision to close or delay generally need to be made by 5:30 AM. (In a very rare event, when weather conditions change unexpectedly what was originally intended to be a delay may need to be changed to a cancellation. In that cirucmstance a second call will be made.) Keep in mind that the decision is made on the best estimate of what will happen in the next four to twelve hours.
If weather, road and parking lot conditions are such that safety is a problem, school will be cancelled and the radio and television stations listed below are called immediately to make that announcement public.
School opening may be delayed by a maximum of 90 minutes if that extra time would seem to offer either better road and parking conditions or a substantial improvement in weather. Different decisions for different schools are not possible because of the logistics of running the bus system over the contracted time.
Delayed Opening Times (90 minute/2 hour):
Closing Following Delayed Opening
Sometimes a delay may be followed by an announcement to close if weather conditions deteriorate rapidly. Families should continue to monitor weather reports after a delay is announced.
With so many single parents and two wage earner families, it is only with the greatest reluctance that children are sent home early because of weather conditions. However, in the event that such an early release is absolutely necessary, each family should have an emergency plan that their children thoroughly understand. Please review your family’s plan with your children and designated caretakers. Radio and TV stations, our website, the town website and www.ctweather.com are immediately notified of any change in status, so it is important to monitor one of the listed media stations if weather conditions deteriorate. Although these are generally the early dismissal times we use, there will be conditions under which it is best to dismiss earlier to allow transportation to be completed under better conditions. In that event times will be noted on the website and sent via BlackBoard Connect.
Early Dismissal Times:
Schedules for the Schools 2013-14 (as of January 1, 2014)
Notes on schedules: Multiple scheduling options allow us to make better decisions in regard to student and staff safety. Our goal is to create as little disruption as possible to our established school calendar. We understand that a schedule change for a school day affects family schedules and may necessitate adjustments to childcare arrangements. When schedule changes are necessary, we try to provide parents and staff with as much advance notice as possible.
When storms are predicted to begin mid-day, early dismissal schedule #1 is the preferred alternative to closing school for an entire day. Early dismissal schedule #1 allows students and staff to be out of school and on their way home by 1:00.
There may be times when a delayed opening is called, but due to unanticipated changes in weather and travel conditions the delay is changed to a closure. We encourage staff and families to continue to monitor local media and their communication devices so they will receive notification and be aware if the decision has changed. A second robo call will be made.
There may be very rare circumstance when a 3-hour delayed opening is a necessary option.
A new study by Harvard Kennedy School assistant professor Joshua Goodman examines the Impact of Snow Days on Student Peformance. Click here to read the article.
How Parents Can Help
On mornings when the weather is bad, but school is still held, please let your children ride the bus. First of all, the heavy school buses are the safest vehicles your children could be in. Secondly, if parents drive, the school driveways become clogged with cars, slowing the drop off process and creating hazards for children exiting buses. For the same reasons, we urge parents not to pick up students at school when an emergency dismissal is called. Please let your children ride the bus.
Please listen to the radio and/or TV or check our status online, but do not call the schools, the Central Office, the Town Hall, the Police Department or the media. Lines need to be kept clear for emergency calls and for parent notification when necessary
Make sure your children understand what to do in the case of an early dismissal when you might not be home.
Learn the Status of School Closings, Delays or Early Dismissals
Tune in to the following radio or television stations: