Superintendent's Corner

Bernard F. Bragen, Jr. December 1, 2014

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To Close School or Not?

Superintendents make many decisions on a daily basis, none more contentious then whether to close school or not due to inclement weather. This decision normally affects the entire school community and has ramifications for parents’ work and child care schedules. It is not a decision to take lightly.

Many factors go into making the decision to close school or not and it all begins with the weather forecast indicating that snow is on the way. Superintendents check several weather services to get the most accurate and up to date information on the pending inclement weather, and many of them contradict each other. If the forecasts are somewhat consistent and snow is likely the process for closing school begins.

If the snow is expected to begin the night before school and continue through the next day with significant accumulations, the decision to close can be made that evening. Unfortunately, as happened often last year, many storms do not begin until the early hours in the morning. When that occurs, the superintendent awakes around 4:00 am to assess the situation. This begins by looking out the window and checking the current forecast to ascertain the current conditions. After this, phone calls are made to our local police department and public works department to check the drivability status of the roads in town. With that information, the superintendent calls the district facility manager to check the status of school walkways and parking lots. Once all this information is gathered, other neighboring superintendents are contacted to learn of their plans to close or not. At this point, with the latest forecast and current conditions at the schools and on the roads, the superintendent decides to remain open, delay opening or close school. The primary concern in making this decision is the safety of our students and staff.

After the decision is made, the information is sent out via our alert system and social media, including our website and Facebook page. The information is also tweeted on the @hazletsupt twitter feed. I would recommend following the superintendent on Twitter because that information normally gets out to the public in the most expeditious manner.

While the decision to close school due to inclement weather is not an easy one, it is one of the most important ones that superintendents make to ensure the students and staff are as safe as possible on days when the weather can make travel difficult.

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