To Cancel School or Not?
Cancelling school is one of the more complex decisions a Superintendent must make. The decision to delay, dismiss early, or close schools due to inclement weather has an enormous effect on all of our families. The following information may help you understand the process that is used when making this critical decision.
When inclement weather impacts the District, I make the decision to dismiss, delay or close schools based upon a careful analysis of the following factors:
- By driving some of our roads and assessing key roads/intersections that our buses need to navigate.
- By assessing the available information on road conditions from law enforcement, our Transportation Director, and local road commissioners.
- By assessing the amount of accumulated snow and/or ice, or the density of the fog.
- By determining whether or not the precipitation/fog is predicted to continue throughout the day.
- By assessing the temperature and wind chill.
- By determining the impact on our transportation (buses).
- By examining weather predictions from satellite systems, local radar, and the National Weather Service.
- By confirming that all needed personnel can get to their required positions to provide a safe environment for students.
- By making sure the school heating systems are functioning properly.
- By assessing the timing of the storm/fog/weather.
- By holding discussions with area Superintendents beginning the prior evening and continuing again around 4:00 am
There may be times that you believe we should have cancelled school or when you believe school should have been in session. Our District, which is over 152 square miles, consists of portions of Morgan County on our Western part. It also reaches past the Movie Theater in Springfield on the Eastern part. The geographical make-up for portions of our District vary and the fact that we have an interstate highway that is utilized by the District makes it very difficult to determine when it is safe for school to be in session. For example, if you live in Loami, conditions might be fine but in New Berlin the conditions could be terrible or vice versa. The final decision on whether to cancel school or not is based upon the overall condition of the District and the safety of all of our children.
If you do not feel it is safe for your child to get to school, use your best judgment as to whether he/she should attend. Please call your respective school office and let them know.
Who makes the decision on whether to delay, dismiss early or cancel school? As the Superintendent, I am tasked with this complex responsibility.
When is the decision made? I will make every attempt to cancel school by 6:30 am or the previous night (on occasion the weather/road conditions will change in such a way that we have to make the decision after 6:30), so we can initiate the automated call system, push the information out on our App, and notify TV stations. If a school day is delayed or dismissed early, the same contacts will be notified.
Will we close school if conditions worsen (early dismissal)? If weather conditions worsen, I will be reluctant to dismiss early. If I send students (especially younger students) back home, some will return to empty houses. Once students arrive at school, I feel that most of the time the safest plan is to keep them at school until the end of the day. However, there may be a time we will dismiss early, in order to get students home before a storm worsens. I am hoping this will be a rare occasion. If this does happen, we will utilize the automated call system immediately to notify parents.
I hope this explanation helps you understand the process we go through when considering whether or not to cancel school. We strive for excellence, but we are aware that the weather is not always predictable.
Dr. Adam Ehrman, Superintendent
New Berlin CUSD #16 ---“Pretzel Pride!”