February 7, 2017
Parents and Staff,
Weather during the winter months can sometimes force a change in the school routine and schedule. Today was one of those days. For a summary of how school schedule changes are made, please refer to the District website under: Be Prepared for School Schedule Changes.
As stated on the website, every effort is made to finalize this decision no later than 5:00 a.m. in order for staff to mobilize and parents to plan. In nearly all cases where a decision is being contemplated for school delay/closure, District staff take as much time as is available to make a final decision. The more time staff take to gather information, assess the most current conditions, evaluate, and make the decision, the better the chances of making the correct decision. Time allows staff to react to unanticipated changes in weather patterns, carefully evaluate current road conditions, forecast road conditions for later in the day, and account for late updates or changes in the weather forecast.
Today, the decision to delay the start of school was made at 4:30 a.m. The decision to change the status to cancellation was made at about 7:35 a.m. and communicated by 7:50 a.m. The District acknowledges this change in plans caused confusion and/or inconvenience for some parents, students, and staff. And for that, we apologize.
This morning, the roads and streets upon which school buses travel were in great shape, and the transport of students was deemed to be safe. The two-hour delay was to have provided some extra time for staff to fully mobilize, and for additional time for the City and County to further address road conditions. The two-hour delay would have allowed more time for SVSD staff commuting from other communities to get here safely as well. So why the change from delay to cancellation?
A handful of issues emerged at around 7:00 a.m. today, which warranted revisiting the original decision. While main roads and streets were in good condition for the school buses to run on limited transportation routes----school parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks were still questionable. Although our maintenance staff had been working to clear and treat these areas since yesterday afternoon, there was not enough progress made to ensure the safety of staff and students upon their arrival at school.
In addition, there were a number of staff who were having major difficulties getting to school (primarily teachers who live outside the District and commute to work each day). There were a number of substitute staff indicating they would not be able to get to school as well. Consequently, available staffing would have been a challenge today.
While preserving the safety of the students is clearly our highest priority, the District also endeavors to adhere to the established school schedule when possible. We realize that canceling or delaying school because of adverse weather conditions causes a good deal of inconvenience for parents, and in many cases students are left at home alone throughout the entire day. These decisions are definitely a balancing act.
Again, we apologize for this morning’s “change in plans” if it caused inconvenience for your family. While making such a change was problematic for some, the decision was made with the safety of students and staff in mind.
Thank you for your support and understanding as these difficult decisions are made.