377 SCHOOL CLOSURE FAQ
During the winter and spring months, a possibility always exists of school closures and/or schedule changes due to inclement weather. The decision to change school schedules because of adverse conditions is based on one factor; the safety of all students and staff. Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about emergency school closures.
Q: When are decisions made about school closures and how will I know?
A: The district makes every effort to decide and announce decisions to close schools before 6 a.m. The planning and review process actually begins the night before. Once a decision is made, a message will be sent to USD 377 families via our parental notification system, Tigertext, email and Edulink. Your emergency contact information collected during school registration is used to contact you. It may, however, be helpful to log on to PowerSchool and make sure your phone numbers and email are up to date. Local media will be notified of the closure. The district’s website as well as social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, are also updated.
Q: What factors go into the decision?
A: Weather and road conditions are checked throughout School District 377 beginning the night before anticipated inclement weather. Using a variety of resources the school district gathers as much information as possible before making the decision. District officials monitor ongoing weather reports, road conditions from the Kansas Department of Transportation, and local and state law enforcement agencies. Maintenance crew members who are assigned to plow school parking lots and sidewalks are consulted.
Classes cannot be held if parking lots and access areas to schools are dangerous or impassible. District transportation officials will provide a recommendation before 5 a.m. to the superintendent responsible for making the final decision after a thorough review of all available data collected. If classes are to be canceled or delayed, the district’s communications department office will notify local media – television and radio – between 5 and 6 a.m. or earlier when possible.
Q: Is there a set temperature that would cause the district to close schools?
A: We will use the National Weather Service Advisory standard for closing school, particularly when it relates to wind chill factor. It is highly likely that school will be canceled whenever there is a wind chill warning, meaning wind chill temperatures are expected to drop as low as 25 below zero. There is no set temperature that would cause the district to close schools, but it is one of the many factors, along with road conditions, that are taken into consideration when making a school closure decision. Extreme temperatures may cause schools to limit recess, off-campus lunch hours for high schools, and extracurricular activities.
Q: Sometimes schools have power outages or other emergencies such as broken pipes. When this happens, what is the procedure?
A: District personnel make every effort to protect students, provide for their comfort and ensure their safety. Sometimes power outages cause classrooms to get cold, but the district does not want to send students home unsupervised or to cold and dark houses. The superintendent will make the decision to send students home, if it becomes necessary. If this happens the district notifies the news media and information is sent to families via Edulink and is posted on the district’s website and social media sites. The district also must mobilize school buses, which can take time. Students will not be transported home without parent notification and contact.
Q: What happens when the number of school days lost due to emergency school closures exceeds the number of school days required by the state?
A: State law requires a specific number of hours of classroom instruction each school year. If a school does not meet this requirement the school year must be extended.
Q: Will USD 377 ever delay the start of the school day?
A: USD 377 has created a two-hour delayed start policy for use on days when weather conditions are likely to significantly improve allowing for the safe continuation of school activities. In the event of inclement weather, the superintendent will strive to make a decision before 6 a.m. to either close schools or delay the opening of school. The decision will be shared via the normal school closure communication channels.
If a delayed start is implemented, all normal school start times will be delayed two hours. During a delayed-start situation, morning bus transportation will be delayed two hours from normal pick-up times. Students are required to be at their bus stop five (5) minutes early even though buses could be running slow due to weather conditions. Please be sure to dress your children appropriately.
There will be no A.M. Kindergarten or A.M. Preschool classes on a delayed start day. When school is delayed, it is important that you DO NOT send or drop off your children at school prior to the delayed start time. Building staff WILL NOT be available to supervise children before that time.
No breakfast will be served. The lunch programs will run as usual. School dismissal will remain at the normal time when school is delayed. Extreme weather conditions may require further adjustment to your student’s bus schedule. Please contact the District’s Transportation Director at 913-370-2035 or 913-833-5050 for more detailed information.
Q: How can I make sure my student is safe?
A: Since parents are the primary protectors they will need to decide what is best for their children. The option to keep children home when weather conditions are extreme is always at the parent's' discretion and the school understands and respects the decision.
In cold weather students should be dressed appropriately. No one can predict when a fire alarm might go off or when buildings might have to be evacuated due to an emergency. Bulky coats and boots can be stored in classrooms, or other areas designated by the principal in addition to student lockers.
Parents are urged to make arrangements at the beginning of each school year for their children in case of school closures and to plan for the rare situation when it is necessary to close an individual school because of a power failure or another circumstance. Children should know where to go if a parent will not be home and how to contact parents and guardians. Parent contact information, including work telephone numbers, should be kept up-to-date with the school. If you are instructed to pick up your student at a location other than their school due to a school closure, you will be ask to present photo ID before the student will be released.
Q: What about school bus transportation when the weather is bad?
A: All bus stops will be serviced in inclement weather unless an emergency announcement is made via the local media and district Web site. In inclement weather, buses may run late for a variety of reasons. Prepare your child, in suitable clothing, to wait additional time at the bus stop, (usually less than 15 minutes). Parents and their children should be prepared for buses to run late on inclement weather days.
Parents should have a contingency plan in the event that a bus is running extremely late or breaks down before reaching the bus stop. Discuss with your child what to do and who to call if the bus does not arrive. Have a neighbor, or reliable student "buddy" at the same stop that can help.